CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Almost a year since the pandemic began, the road ahead to recovery is still a long one for Virginia’s small businesses. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) held a virtual webinar for small business owners on Friday, sharing some of the resources out there after the December stimulus bill.
He also offered an update on the benefits that could be included in the new bill being negotiated right now.
“I know you are anxious to get your businesses reopen. If you’re a restaurant, if you’re a venue. You’re still way behind the eight ball,” Warner said. “We’re going to need that full vaccine distribution across the whole country before we get to the point that things can get anything close to approaching normal.”
To help small business owners in the meantime, Senator Warner’s and experts from the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration teamed up to answer questions about help available right now.
“Starting on January 21, applications reopen for second and third rounds of PPP,” Warner explaind. “Do not wait until the end of March to get your applications in. Please work with your banking community now to get these dollars out.”
The panelists fielded a wide variety of questions. Several asked about what support exists for wedding venues.
“That was sort of included in the first tranche really prioritized for special dispensation for our rebuild Virginia grant,” Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick said. “I know PPP will be eligible for those venues too.”
A handful of questions also asked about timeline for the shuttered venue operator grants for theaters and music halls.
“The shuttered venue swill stay open until all the funds are used up,” Carl Knoblock from the Small Business Administration said. “That time frame could be you know, two months. It could be six months. It just depends on how it’s used.”
Warner wants small businesses to take advantage of these resources now. That’s due in part to the fact the new stimulus bill, as written, does not include much more small business relief.
“About $15 billion for businesses that have really had disaster and additional idle grants, there’s another 10 plus billion dollars on a couple of other smaller initiatives,” Warner said.
Warner says he’s hoping to boost that as negotiations continue, but says this stimulus bill will likely be the last of the pandemic.
“I think the belief is that this next COVID package will probably be the last COVID package,” he said.