CAPE CORAL, FLA — "Interesting" is probably the nicest way that Cole Peacock can describe trying to keep a new business afloat in a year like 2020.
"Opening the business with a new concept with a new industry with Florida just relatively new in the cannabis industry," he said.
You've probably seen his business, the Seed and Been Market in downtown Fort Myers, which offers CBD products and so much more.
And Peacock says the only way they were able to keep their doors open was through a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and by getting creative.
"Us being a marketplace we were able to really shift and be like a downtown grocery store or bodega. And the state of Florida gave us passage to do that and signed off on it. We were selling toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and dog food," he said.
With the Small Business Administration (SBA) opening up a second round of PPP loan applications Monday, Peacock says his shop will be applying for some help once again.
"It was really able to get us through the hard times," he said.
It's a practice that Florida Gulf Coast University Finance Professor Tom Smythe says most small businesses who need help should do and quick.
"I don't think it would necessarily make sense to wait simply because the legislative process can take an extensive amount of time," he said.
Smythe says it's especially important to keep small businesses alive in an area like Southwest Florida, where the economy is fueled by tourism.
"The more small businesses that shut down, it'll take longer for job growth to be re-created," he said.
And as businesses prepare to apply and wait for their answer, Peacock has this advice for them:
"One thing I would tell any small business owner is and any large business owner: don't be afraid to pivot and don't be afraid to try something new," he said.
FOX 4 also reached out to the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce for the latest information on PPP loan applications and qualifications. Here's the statement they sent us:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal on Monday, January 11, 2021 9:00AM ET. The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. When the PPP loan portal system opens, it will initially accept First Draw PPP loan applications from participating CFIs, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.
- PPP loans have an interest rate of 1%.
- Loans issued prior to June 5 have a maturity of 2 years. Loans issued after June 5 have a maturity of 5 years.
- Loan payments will be deferred for borrowers who apply for loan forgiveness until SBA remits the borrower's loan forgiveness amount to the lender. If a borrower does not apply for loan forgiveness, payments are deferred 10 months after the end of the covered period for the borrower’s loan forgiveness (either 8 weeks or 24 weeks).
- No collateral or personal guarantees are required.
- Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
How To Apply
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download the following PPP borrower application forms to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender:
Paycheck Protection Program First Draw Borrower Application Form (revised 01-08-21)