STATE PARKS CLOSED; worker and small business resources available

Dear friend:

This morning, Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered state parks and historic sites closed to use. That includes Franklin Mountain State Park. You can read more about it here. The City and County previously had ordered the closure of local parks, trails, and golf course.

Over the last two weeks of March, more than 13,000 people filed jobless claims in El Paso and the counties in District 29, with food workers and other low-wage earners the hardest hit.

In a Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce survey taken two weeks ago, a quarter of businesses reported losses of 80 percent or more, with 80 percent reporting at least a 10 percent drop.

You can see more reporting on the economic impact of coronavirus from El Paso Matters here, information from the Greater chamber here, and information from the Hispanic Chamber here.

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have dealt with in our lifetimes. Aside from limiting our contact with others, one of the most important things we can do is share accurate and timely information.

To that end, my staff has developed a Community Resources Guide with links to official sources of information such as the Texas Workforce Commission and the El Paso Public Health Department. It also contains local resources for students’ education and food needs, suggestions for things to do with children, and other items.

I will be sending occasional newsletters highlighting portions of this document, which we update regularly. Today, we highlight resources available for workers and for small business owners.


José Rodríguez


Unemployment Support

Apply for benefits with Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) online using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8-6 CST M-F.

Because of high volume, the TWC states that the online portal may be more responsive between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., when volume is lower.

TWC has developed a call schedule based on area codes.

Area codes beginning with 2: Tues-Thurs-Sat 1-5 p.m.
Area codes beginning with 3, 4, 5, 6: Mon-Wed-Fri 1-5 p.m.
Area codes beginning with 7, 8: Tues-Thurs-Sat 8-Noon
Area codes beginning with 9: Mon-Wed-Fri 8-Noon

TWC has developed a new “virtual assistant” feature that may help.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid has provided a web page with resources, including questions employees may have about their legal rights and other questions regarding time off from work.

The federal CARES Act has additional benefits for many workers not already covered under current laws. This includes $600 a week for up to four months, even if the worker did not previously make that much.

It also provides for payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, with payments decreasing at $75,000 for single filers, $122,500 for taxpayers filing as a head of household, and $150,000 for taxpayers filing jointly.


Analysis of the CARES Act by the National Law Review

COMPLETE LIST of SBA programs developed by the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan application page. They state that the online application is the fastest method to receive a decision about loan eligibility. If you have questions, call 1-800-659-2955 or [email protected].

If you need a quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover your business, consider applying for the Emergency Economic Injury Grant when you apply for an SBA loan.

If you are a small business and need capital to cover the cost of retaining employees, learn about the Paycheck Protection Program

If you might benefit from free counseling to help you navigate economic challenges related to COVID-19, consult with SBA resource partners

–The Texas Comptroller’s office is providing assistance in the form of short-term payment agreements, and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest. Contact the Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 to learn more or visit COVID-19 emergency response webpage for access to online tools, tutorials and other resources for tax services, and to establish 24/7 online account access with Webfile.

–Forbes has published the Small Business Relief Tracker: Funding, Grants And Resources For Business Owners Grappling With Coronavirus

–El Paso Collaborative, an affiliate of Project VIDA, is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that can offer small business loans to help cover operational expenses. If interested, please contact Teresa Craig at 915-533-7057 ext. 222 or [email protected]
Sul Ross University Small Business Development Center FAQ re the Paycheck Protection Program
Starting April 10, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply to the Paycheck Protection Program

This loan provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. SBA will fully forgive the loan if all employees are retained and if 75% of more of the money is used on payroll.

Who can apply? 
In order to be eligible, you must be a small business (500 employees or less). As of today, small businesses and sole proprietors can apply. Contractors and the self-employed can can apply on April 10th. Some nonprofits also qualify.

How can the loan be used? 
For payroll (including benefits), interest on mortgage, rent and utilities.

How much of the loan will be forgiven? 
In order to be fully forgiven, you must retain all employees. In addition, 75% of more of the loan must be used on payroll. If you are unable to retain all employees, you will be required to repay a portion of the loan.

What are the loan terms? 
Interest rate is 1%. All payments are deferred for six months, though interest will continue to accrue during this period. Any portion of the loan that is not forgiven will need to be repaid within 2 years. You do not need to pledge any collateral to receive this loan.

How to Apply? 
This program is available through participating SBA lenders.The application is herebut be sure to connect with your lender to determine if there are other forms and documentation you need to fill out or submit.

What materials will you need to apply? 
Reach out to a participating lender work with them to gather the necessary documentation such as: 

· Payroll and payroll tax records for the last year _ 
· For sole proprietors: you will need documentation of income and expenses. If this is not available, you must provide supporting documentation such as bank records to demonstrate payroll amount.· Calculate your maximum borrow level: 
· Step 1: Aggregate payroll costs from the last twelve months for employees whose principal place of residence is the United States. 
· Step 2: Subtract any compensation paid to an employee in excess of annual salary of $100,000 
· Step 3: Calculate average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 2 by 12). 
· Step 4: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 3 by 2.5. 
· Step 5: Add the outstanding amount of an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020, less the amount of any “advance” under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid)._

Do independent contractors count as employees for purposes of loan forgiveness? 
No, independent contractors have the ability to apply for a PPP loan on their own so they do not count for purposes of a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness.

If I apply for a PPP, can I still apply for other SBA disaster loans? 
Yes. However, you cannot use your PPP loan for the same purpose as your other SBA loan(s). If you received an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), you can apply for a PPP loan. If your EIDL loan was not used for payroll costs, it does not affect your eligibility for a PPP loan. If your EIDL loan was used for payroll costs, your PPP loan must be used to refinance your EIDL loan. Proceeds from any advance up to $10,000 on the EIDL loan will be deducted from the loan forgiveness amount on the PPP loan.

Accepting an Approved Loan? Stop First to Consider: 
If you have already laid off employees, you should be sure they will come back prior to accepting the full loan. In order to be fully forgiven, you must maintain full payroll. Employees may be collecting new unemployment benefits that provide an increase in pay.

More information on the Paycheck Protection Program here

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