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COVID-19 small business support

Helping New York’s small businesses through a crisis

Like many other places around the world, the coronavirus has put much of the United States into lockdown. In addition to restricting personal movement, this has forced businesses to cease operations until after the pandemic has peaked and the authorities deem it safe to reopen.

In late March 2020, the United States passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2tn package to help cushion the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Among other measures, it introduced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This provided $349bn in funding for forgivable low-interest loans to help qualifying small businesses meet their payroll costs and certain other ongoing expenses, such as rent, utilities and mortgage/debt interest.

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded in the United States, Freshfields reached out to the East Village Independent Merchants Association (EVIMA), an organization supporting small businesses in this historic district of Lower Manhattan, and Lawyers Alliance for New York (LANY), a leading provider of legal services for local non-profits and social enterprises, to offer legal advice and assistance to EVIMA and its members in obtaining relief available under the PPP.

Like in many other places around the United States, small businesses in New York City were keen to apply for support. However, with the program being so new, many were uncertain about their eligibility for the program and the application process.

There was no way to meet applicants in person, so instead, on April 6, 2020 Freshfields led a webinar organized by EVIMA and the New York’s Community Board No.3 regarding the PPP.

With over 100 participants joining the event, senior associate Vinita Sithapathy gave an outline of the PPP and, along with Partner Brian Rance and Associate Anne Powderly, answered attendees’ questions on the program’s finer points and put together a set of FAQs for businesses to use on an ongoing basis to guide them through the application process.

The seminar is available on YouTube and Freshfields’ lawyers remain available to advise on federal funding programs and help New York’s small businesses keep afloat during such trying times.