If you own a small business, there’s money available to help you right now, but you have to act fast.
As part of the CARES Act passed by Congress, $349 billion is available through the Paycheck Protection Program on a first-come, first-served basis.
Most charities and churches with fewer than 500 employees are eligible as well.
The interest on the loan is just one percent, and unlike a traditional loan you don’t need a personal guarantee, collateral or credit qualification.
In fact, depending on how you use it, you could actually have the entire loan amount forgiven.
"Yes, it is a loan, but it really for all practical purposes, it’s intended to be a grant," said John Asbury, CEO of Richmond-based Atlantic Union Bank, "so the whole concept of course is to try to keep employees on the payroll."
According to the Small Business Administration, the loan will be fully forgiven if 75 percent of the funds are used for payroll costs and the rest on mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.
Asbury says the demand greatly exceeds the supply, though.
"The example I give is, if you were a dental practice and every one of your customers showed up in your waiting room at the same time saying 'I need help,' that’s what the banking system is experiencing right now,” Asbury said.
Since the program opened Friday, Atlantic Union Bank has received more than 6,000 applications requesting $1.46 billion.
“We are working round the clock. We have people volunteering. We have people working past midnight trying to work this through the system. It is in fact first-come, first-served, so the advantage is going to go to the banks best able to process these requests in a timely manner," said Asbury.
Although he says there’s good reason to believe Congress will authorize more funding, you should apply now through your bank to make sure you get it.
You can get more information about applying for the loan here.