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The Xavier Dillard Experiment: Two HBCU Presidents Pushing the COVID Vaccine On Their Students

The presidents of Xavier and Dillard University, C. Reynold Verret and Walter M. Kimbrough, sent an open letter last Wednesday to announce their participation in the Ochsner Medical System’s vaccine trial. This outreach strategy sounds progressive because Black people are 2.5x more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. We do indeed need a race/informed solution to this public health crisis. 

The letter encouraged Black and Brown students and faculty to participate in the vaccine trial while still acknowledging the medical apartheid that our health system sanctions. These HBCU presidents stated that “It is of the utmost importance that a significant number of black and brown subjects participate so that the effectiveness of these vaccines be understood across the many diverse populations that compromise these United States.” However, stating that we are the most harmed and affected by the virus does not justify encouraging us to once again put our bodies on the line for the advancement of medicine. Specifically mentioning the Tuskegee syphilis experiments to reach the generations that were directly harmed, plays into our sensitivity in an extremely distasteful manner.

While HBCUs are supposed to uplift and invest in Black futures, we can not at the same time ignore racist infrastructure or make light of the history of torture, sterilization, and experimentation. As a Howard University student, I am too aware of the anti-Black structures of our HBCUs and how that internalized White supremacy negatively impacts the student body that generates the culture, research, and excellence that we revere. Black Institutions that carry our history are well-informed on this truth and yet perpetuate it too often. We are used for science but seldom gain access to the benefits garnered from the sacrifices on our bodies.

Dr. J. Marion Sims is considered the father of gynecology and performed experiments on enslaved African women, in order to advance medicine for White women. Between 1846 and 1849 he performed surgeries on African women without anesthesia. Once he perfected the procedures, he moved to New York, opened a hospital, and operated on White women, but this time with anesthesia. Black women still face this trauma today when entering reproductive health practices that still reflect that history within their current practices. Ultimately, the origins of gynecological research is a direct correlation to why Black women are 3 to 4x more likely to experience maternal mortality or morbidity. The sickening reality of our personal treatment extends to medical research.

 Modern cancer treatment also owes everything to a Black woman —Henrietta Lacks. While even today, Black women like Lacks receive inadequate care and face discrimination.  “She’s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?” says one of Lacks descendants. 

“Whether you think the commercialization of medical research is good or bad depends on how into capitalism you are.” Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I wonder whether or not funding played a role in both presidents offering up not only their young people, our community’s future leaders, but also themselves, their families, and faculty and staff. Poverty is government sanctioned. There is an intentional withholding of health and wellness from our communities in order to perpetuate racialized capitalism. 

If we can’t expect our local hospitals and urgent care centers to treat us with equity and dignity, then we can no longer use our bodies to advance science for the rest of y’all. 

In North Carolina, for over 40 years, a statewide eugenics program forcibly sterilized thousands of Black people. The program was designed to decrease the Black population in the state. In fact, a recent Duke University study showed  that the program’s disproportionate effect on Black people was no accident—“program was designed explicitly to ‘breed out’ nonworking Black residents.” The racist political agenda that exists in science has to be demolished not for our ‘advancement’, but for our survival. 

The aforementioned stories only scratch the surface of the realities of our community’s relationship with the American health care system. For these reasons and countless others, we don’t trust it. “According to a May report from the Pew Research Center, Black Americans trust doctors less than their White counterparts, but they trust medical researchers a whole lot less, with only 53 percent expressing a positive opinion of people in that profession.” 

Xavier and Dillard University must rethink this outreach program that asks Black students to be on the frontlines of COVID research. There cannot be spontaneous trust in our medical facilities. Our bodies must be respected as much as our white counterparts. We must first heal from the experiences we carry from these traumas. Reparations and dependable reassurance of our safety are necessary for medical advancement. 

If we can’t expect our local hospitals and urgent care centers to treat us with equity and dignity, then we can no longer use our bodies to advance science for the rest of y’all. 

– Naima Bandele, Howard University, African Studies Major and student-activist

Further Readings

 New Paper Examines Disproportionate Effect of Eugenics on NC’s Black Population 

Black newborns more likely to die when looked after by White doctors 

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present

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16 Year Old Secures Government Contracts, Makes International Coronavirus PPE Deal

When America needed 50,000 coronavirus masks, it turned to Wesley Ross. America didn’t care that Wesley was 15, living in Woodbury and operating from a messy desk laden with Legos and an Xbox.

Businesses were screaming for the masks, and Wesley’s young company, NorthStar Dynamics, managed to track them down in a Chinese factory.

“I got them for 41 cents per mask,” he said proudly. The disposable three-ply masks are only a small part of the business that the brash and unstoppable Wesley has been able to grab.

“I have always tried to do big things,” he said. “I was not meant to be an everyday high-schooler.”

Now 16, the rising junior has carved a niche in the business world as a bottom feeder for government contracts. He bids on contracts too small to get the attention of most businesses.

Day after day, he taps his keyboard to dig up tiny contracts for things the government needs. He then finds a manufacturer to make it, a trucking company to deliver it and the right bid for the buyer to accept it.

He’s not filling orders for $2 billion B-2 stealth bombers. But if a prison needs copy paper, or a hospital needs 50 office chairs, Wesley is on it.

He has discovered that even though the contracts are small, there are many of them – enough for $10,000 in sales last month.

“That’s how you beat the big dogs,” said Wesley. His mom, special-education teacher Rasheida Ross, remembers Wesley’s first business transactions – selling bracelets made of rubber bands, as a 7-year-old.

Wesley founded his first real business on his 15th birthday – a line of car accessories and electronics called SpeedLabs, to raise money for a car club. “I made $5,500 in one summer,” he said.

But he didn’t get serious about business until he watched the 2016 movie “War Dogs,” a fictional account of a true story. He watched, fascinated, as two young entrepreneurs landed a contract to supply $300 million in weapons to the U.S. military.

“I saw Jonah Hill in that movie, and I said, ‘I do not need to sell electronics.’ It was mind-blowing for me.”

‘I AM PERSISTENT’

Last July, with no startup capital or experience but plenty of self-confidence, Wesley started NorthStar Dynamics and got certified as a small and minority-owned business.

Just as in the movie, he looked over government requests for supplies and began bidding.

“I am persistent when it comes to contracts,” he said.

“A military base in Oklahoma will say they need 5,000 cans of corn. Well, I know many, many manufacturers of canned corn.”

He’s bid on lockers, paper, salt for highways. “I sent canned beans and kosher condiments to a prison in Arizona,” he said. He recently sold diesel fuel, to be loaded onto a Mississippi River barge.

His largest contract was for $115,000, for gravel delivered to a military base. On that deal, he made $11,000, which he split with a one-time contract partner.

Now, with about $3,500 a month in profit, he can afford to hire two other high school students to help the business.

MASKS DEAL

Unlike his other deals, the coronavirus masks purchase did not come through the federal government. Instead, he bought the cache straight from a company in China and had them shipped to his grandparents’ house in Georgia.

He placed ads online and before long, trucks began backing up to the house.

“My goal with the masks was to get them to the public as fast as possible,” he said. He donated 250 masks for every 1,000 masks he sold, and gave 25 percent of his revenue for coronavirus relief.

Since finding success with the masks, he has branched out into supplying businesses. The website now has 285 products, but he says he can get anything a business needs. “I want to be a one-stop shop for businesses,” he said.

Wesley has no immediate plans for a more impressive headquarters.

He sheepishly describes his “quote-unquote home office” as a bedroom desk with a computer, TV, Xbox, Legos, and a 4-foot stack of papers that essentially is the filing system for NorthStar Dynamics.

“I am a creative teenager,” he shrugged. “I don’t see any other high schoolers doing this.”

 

Source: TwinCities.com


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New $45 Million Government Grant Program Prioritizes Black Owned Businesses in New Jersey

Good news for Black owned businesses in New Jersey. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) recently announced that applications for the expanded Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be available at 9:00 a.m. on June 9, 2020.

Only 12% of minority-owned businesses received federal relief funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). To address this disparity, NJEDA is reserving $15 million for businesses in Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts and launching an aggressive and targeted outreach campaign so that businesses in historically underserved communities have increased access and priority for relief.

A sample application that small business owners can use to prepare is available at http://cv.business.nj.gov/.

The NJEDA received $50 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support small businesses.

In Phase 1 of the NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, the agency provided more than $8 million in grants to date to nearly 2,500 businesses across all 21 counties.

The NJEDA will now provide an additional $5 million to fund businesses that were waitlisted during Phase 1 and will use $45 million to fund Phase 2.

The new round will provide grants up to $10,000 to qualified applicants and aims to support a wider variety of companies, including home-based businesses and sole proprietorships. The funding is also open to churches and nonprofit organizations.

Eligibility changes for Phase 2 increase the employee cap for businesses from 10 full-time employees (FTEs) to 25 FTEs and remove the NAICS code restrictions that were in place for Phase 1 to allow almost all businesses as well as 501(c)(3), 501 (c)(4), and 501(c)(7) nonprofit organizations to qualify for funding.

Applications for Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be available on June 9, 2020. NJEDA staff will process the applications on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no application fee.

As part of the application, the business’s Chief Executive Officer or equivalent officer must certify that the company was in operation on February 15, 2020, has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and will make a best effort not to furlough or lay off any employees.

To comply with duplication of benefits provisions within the Stafford Act, all applicants will also be required to fill out an affidavit identifying all funding previously received related to COVID-19, including Small Business Administration loans and grants, forgivable portions of Payroll Protection loans, and Economic Injury Disaster grants.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit https://www.njeda.com and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

Related: 24 Black Owned New Jersey Businesses


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Feature image: (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Magic Johnson’s Insurance Company To Fund $100 Million For Black Owned Businesses

The Magic Johnson company EquiTrust Life Insurance Co, will be reportedly providing $100 million for Black-owned businesses. EquiTrust Life Insurance Co will fund the money via the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) PayCheck Protection Program, as they believe minor businesses are being ‘overlooked’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. EquiTrust Life Insurance Co is majority-owned by the Magic Johnson enterprises.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Magic Johnson company owned by Magic Johnson enterprises will be teaming up with MBE Capital Partners to provide PayCheck Protection Program loans. MBE Capital Partners is a non-bank lender that focuses on funding women-owned and minority businesses. While talking to the Wall Street Journal, Johnson stated that their initiative is important as small businesses cannot walk into a bank and ask for a loan.

Johnson added that he became aware of the problems faced by these businesses through news reports. MBE Capital’s chief executive Rafael Martinez also noticed that people applying for the PPPP were facing problems as they were reportedly favoring companies with previous relationships. After Martinez started receiving calls to help, their collaboration with the Magic Johnson company took place.

Many big companies, including Johnson’s former NBA team the Los Angeles Lakers, received the funding as they have less than 500 employees. However, they returned the funding after facing public criticism. The Magic Johnson company was aware of the reason behind small businesses not receiving the funds, especially when larger companies had good relationships with banks.

MBE and the Magic Johnson company finalized their deal this month. They were brought together by the National Action Network, which is a civil rights organization.

According to Martinez, Johnson’s $100 million will be promptly forwarded to the 5000 PayCheck Protection Program’s loans that MBE Capital had approved with the Small Business Administration. 80% of the minority-owned businesses have reportedly asked for around $25,000 owing to their small size. Their companies are apparently choosing people no one else is willing to help.

The government had reportedly instructed SBA to guide lenders in helping the small businesses. However, they reportedly failed to do so.

Magic Johnson is also looking for different ways to help minority communities, as per the Wall Street Journal. This includes raising money to help give meals to inner cities while looking to extend their deal with MBE Capital. During his interview, Johnson stated that priority will be minority communities. As per Johnson, this is a ‘life and death’ matter for many business owners and they will help them as they have ‘nowhere else to turn’.

Tony O. Lawson

Related: Black Owned Health products brand receives investment from Magic Johnson


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Relief Funds May Soon be Used To Provide Grants To Homeschoolers

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to use $180 million in federal coronavirus relief earmarked for the hardest-hit states to create voucher-like grants for parents and to expand virtual education.

The education department will allow states to apply for a share of that money.

For DeVos, those priorities include directing more public education dollars to families, rather than school districts, and creating alternatives to traditional schools and instruction.

“The current disruption to the normal model is reaffirming something I have said for years: we must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century,” DeVos said in a statement Monday. “This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity.”

In awarding these grants, the department says it will consider the coronavirus’ impact on a state — the stated purpose of the money, as allocated by Congress. But its criteria go far beyond that, raising the possibility that grants will end up in states that have not been hit hardest by the virus. Forty of the 100 points of the scoring rubric relate to a state’s coronavirus cases and ability to transition to remote instruction.

State education agencies can apply for federal money by proposing one of three things.

The first is “microgrants” — what some would call “vouchers” — meant to give families more options for remote learning. Those grants could be used to pay for tutoring, summer programs, tuition to a private or public school online program, counseling, test prep, or textbooks, among other things. The state must allow private organizations to provide those services.

The second option is for states to create a statewide virtual school or another program allowing students to access classes that their regular school doesn’t offer. States can either expand an existing program or create one from scratch.

The final option is nebulously defined: For a state to create “models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives.”

The department says it expects to award grants of $5 million to $20 million for winning states — a tiny fraction of state education budgets and of the main pot of coronavirus response relief money headed to states. 

But during an economic downturn, states will likely be eager to get any extra money they can, and some of the ideas, like the creation of a statewide virtual school, could have a lasting impact.

The department’s regulations emphasize that students who attend private schools must be eligible to participate.

 

Source: Chalkbeat

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Black Owned Telecom Company Donates Over 700,000 Units of Personal Protection Equipment to Healthcare Workers

Figgers Communications is one of the only Black owned telecom company in the United States.

Committed to making the world a better place by donating a percentage of the company’s profits to pro-social efforts, philanthropist and CEO Freddie Figgers has spearheaded a campaign to provide critical assistance to thousands of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Florida-based non-profit is donating and distributing approximately 700,000 units of personal protection equipment (“PPE”) to Coronavirus outbreak hotspots around the country.

These hotspots include hospitals and healthcare workers in New York, Washington State, California, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan. The donations include some of the most crucial PPE equipment such as surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields and hazardous material protective coveralls.

“When I saw the virus in China and how it affected the nearly 1.5 billion population, I knew it was only a matter of time before it struck home here in America,” said Figgers. “I knew the pandemic could potentially overwhelm our healthcare system and began planning to gather critical supplies, such as PPEs, anticipating that access to protective gear could become an issue for healthcare professionals on the front lines.

I was able to purchase these supplies directly from manufacturers before they would be overwhelmed themselves. We are grateful to be able to make this contribution and stand with American first responders as they work tirelessly to battle this global health crisis. I am personally committed to doing everything in my power to make the world a better place.”

Distribution of PPE donations will continue while supplies last – if you are a healthcare provider in need of PPE for your patient care staff, please submit a request by visiting The Figgers Foundation website at http://www.figgersfoundation.org.

 

Source: PR Web

Related: Black Owned Telecom Firm Donates 500 Free Phones to Help Families in Puerto Rico


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Black Millionaire Pledged $1 Million To Help The Unemployed During COVID-19 crisis

In March, Chicago based businessman and philanthropist, Willie Wilson announced he would be sending $100 to 10,000 people who have recently lost their job due to COVID-19.

Wilson has a rags-to-riches life story that began when he left his humble Louisiana home at age 13 with only a seventh-grade education. He went from earning 20 cents an hour in cotton and sugar cane fields to founding Omar Medical Supplies Inc., a business that distributes gloves and protective clothing to restaurant chains, governmental institutions, and hotels.

He has donated hundreds of thousands of masks to Sinai Health System and 22 other community organizations, 20,000 to Jackson Park Hospital, 10,000 to the Westside NAACP, 50,000 to the Chicago Transit Authority and 10,000 for correctional officers at the Cook County Jail.

He also has given masks to ministers and aldermen to hand out in the community and donated others to senior citizen facilities.

“Folks are anxious. Folks are afraid, and their future is uncertain. We’re all in this together. So, we must pull together. [In] just a small way I can help bridge the gap until the government steps up and does what’s right, quickly, for those in need. I am blessed to be able to do it,” Wilson said in a statement.

Per the Willie Wilson Foundation website, “We have exhausted our funding for this $1 Million Dollar Giveaway. If you would like to be considered for our next event, please continue to register.  ”

Willie Wilson
Looks like some folks actually got their $$

To learn more about his next event, visit the Willie Wilson Foundation website.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

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This Black Owned Candle Business Won’t Let a Pandemic Put Its Fire Out

Scent & Fire Candle Company is a Black owned candle business that makes products for those who enjoy using aroma-driven mood enhancers to beautify their environment.

We caught up with founder, Monisha Edwards to find out what she did to increase her sales in a time when many businesses are struggling.

Scent & Fire Candle Company founder, Monisha Edwards

What inspired you to start your business?

I started Scent & Fire Candle company because I have suffered from anxiety, stress, and depression for many years.

I started looking into holistic ways to alleviate stress and anxiety and stumbled upon aromatherapy. From there, I started getting into candle making. I created three signature scents for myself and being a brand strategist, I decided to design a mockup of my labels and posted them on Facebook.

Everyone wanted to buy my candles, so I set aside some time over a weekend and designed a website, ordered supplies to make more candles, come up with the name Scent & Fire, and registered the business.

I decided to use my candle company as a platform to educate about mental health, wellness, and the importance of practicing self-care.

 

What were your initial thoughts when you learned about the Coronavirus outbreak?

When I initially heard about the Coronavirus outbreak, I thought that it would be another Ebola or Swine Flu phase. I felt bad for the people who were contracting it and becoming ill, but I had no idea that it was what it is now.

Once I started hearing about the seriousness of the virus, I started taking extra precautions in my daily routines and started going out less often. When we were all encouraged to stay home, I basically self-quarantined even though I wasn’t sick. I have chronic asthma, so I definitely couldn’t afford to get sick.

How has it affected your business?

The Coronavirus crisis affected my business tremendously.  Sales from my online store decreased and by the time March came around, I had no income lined up, so I had to figure out how to make money to help me pay bills.

Black Owned Candle Business

What new strategies have you implemented or do you plan to implement in your business? 

My sales increased after I created a Quarantine based theme and playlists that came with the candles. The names are Socially Distant, Shelter & Chill, Living Room Flex, and Therapy In Place.

People thought that the names were really creative, and they also liked the fact that you could scan a QR code on the box that the candles come in, light the candle, and vibe out to some good music to create an experience right at home.

Once I did this, my story was picked up by the news, and sales increased even more due to people loving my story about how I basically “turned lemons into lemonade” during this tough time where many small businesses are struggling to keep doors open. I definitely made a great pivot with my candle brand, and I feel like things will do even better in the coming months.

I also plan to do more marketing via social media. I feel its essential because even after the Shelter-In-Place mandate is lifted, many people will still be cautious of going out in public or be in big crowds, and they will still be online more often than not.

Black Owned Candle Business


If you had one ask of your community right now, what would it be?

If I would ask that my community pray for and support all small businesses right now, especially black-owned businesses and establishments. We need you the most.

Share a post, buy a gift card, or patron a black-owned establishment as often as you can. Times like these are difficult and we are in dire need of support from our very own community.

 

–Tony O. Lawson 


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What Small Business Owners Need to Know About the New Stimulus Bill

Congressional leaders reached an agreement with the White House on Tuesday for the relief bill to aid small-business owners. The bill, which includes a $310 billion refresh of the Paycheck Protection Program, has now been sent to the House for approval.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the future of the PPP program and alternative financing.

What’s happening with the Paycheck Protection Program?

The initial $350 billion for the PPP was designed to help small businesses cover payroll and other costs during the coronavirus pandemic. The program was exhausted as of April 16.

Lawmakers are now seeking to approve $484 billion to be allocated to small businesses, including $310 billion for the PPP program. House approval is expected Thursday.

I was approved for a PPP loan. Will I still get funding? How long will it take?

If you were approved and received confirmation from your lender, you can expect to receive PPP funds in around seven to 10 days. If you think you were approved, but didn’t receive any form of confirmation from your lender, it’s likely that you won’t receive a loan from the first $350 billion Congress put aside for this program.

Many bank clients believe they’ve been approved, but weren’t. The best way for a business owner to check whether or not they’ve been approved is to follow up directly with their lender. Many lenders have been proactive in updating their clients, and are planning to submit applications that weren’t approved by the SBA before the funding initially ran out.

How can I apply for the new round of PPP funds?

According to the SBA, lender enrollment and new loan applications aren’t being accepted at this time. Once the new bill is signed into law, the SBA is expected to announce when it will take applications for PPP again.

Small Business Owners

While waiting for PPP funding to resume, businesses should collect all required documentation for the program and send it to their bank lender. This enables the bank to prepare for submitting a client’s application as soon as the program opens again.

Tony Wilkinson, president and CEO of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, said that he expects funding to once again be gone in as quickly as a week.

“Lenders will be hitting the submit button on a significant number of applications as soon as it’s open,” he said.

If I applied to the first round of PPP, do I have to apply again?

Business owners don’t have to apply again if their application didn’t get approved in the first round. Many lenders have held on to these applications, and are prioritizing them in the pipeline for when the program opens up again.

How are lenders handling loans that didn’t get funded before the money ran out for the PPP?

Many lenders are continuing to process loans that didn’t get funded in the first round. They expect the process to move quickly when funds are available again.

Umpqua Bank, for example, has spent the past several days making sure small businesses have documentation and that their applications are completed and ready to go. The bank has had its teams working in shifts around the clock to get the high volume of applications completed.

“Our goal is to have as many small-business applications ready to submit to the SBA as soon as it reopens the PPP application process,” said Tory Nixon, senior executive vice president and chief banking officer at Umpqua Bank.

While it isn’t too late for business owners who haven’t yet applied, there is incredibly high demand. Reach out to your lenders as soon as possible to inquire whether they have the capacity to process your application.

“With the next round, it’s really a race against the clock to help as many small businesses as possible before the funding is again fully committed, which could happen within just a few days,” said Mr. Nixon.

The small-business loan program designed to keep workers employed is out of money, and some main street business owners hit by the coronavirus pandemic say that it simply isn’t enough to keep their business alive in the first place.

What can I use my PPP loan for?

PPP loans are primarily to be used for payroll-related expenses. At least 75% of the loan is required to be used for payroll; it is anticipated that no more than 25% can be used for mortgage interest, rent or lease payments, utilities and interest or debt accumulated since Feb. 15.

Utility expenses encompass necessities like cable and internet. Exceptions include personal expenses, including compensation above $100,000.

PPP funds must be used in 8 weeks to be forgiven. If unused or used for anything other than payroll or utility expenses, the loans aren’t forgivable and must be repaid, according to the Treasury’s fact sheet, which can be found online. Business owners will also owe money if they fail to maintain employee head-count.

Can I pay myself with the funds?

It depends on how the business is structured. If the business owner is a sole proprietor or salaried, they are entitled to pay themselves from the PPP. But if the business is an S corporation and the owner receives owner draws, then they aren’t entitled to use the money for their own pay.

For those who are eligible, the PPP can cover one’s salary up to $100,000.

Can I still get a traditional SBA loan?

For now, business owners can still apply for standard SBA loans, though a bank’s capacity to process them might be limited at this time. Call your bank first to ask if it can still be done in a timely manner.

While the money is available, standard SBA loans are a viable option for those who don’t qualify for the PPP, or are awaiting possible funding from it.

In addition, the SBA Debt Relief program is automatically suspending payments for all current and new borrowers for a six-month period. This includes principal, interest and fees for 7(a), 504 and microloans issued before this Sept. 27.

What about the Employee Retention Credit?

The Employee Retention Credit, which launched March 31, is a refundable tax credit implemented to help businesses to keep their employees on payroll.

Separate from the stimulus package, the tax credit is for 50% of up to $10,000 in wages for each employee if a business has been hurt by Covid-19, according to the IRS.

To qualify, a business must be fully or partially suspended due to the government order, or making less than 50% of comparable quarterly earnings.

Can I sign up for the Employee Retention Credit in addition to the PPP?

The Employee Retention Credit can’t be used in tandem with the PPP.

What resources are available for independent contractors or gig-economy workers?

Independent contractors and gig workers can collect unemployment. Businesses are encouraged to inform their contractors of this new benefit.

Independent contractors, sole proprietors and people who are self-employed are also qualified to apply for the PPP, according to the SBA.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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This Black Owned Pepper and Spice Farm Wants To Bring The Heat To Your Kitchen

Like many other Black owned businesses that have taken a hit in the past few months, Herban Farm is navigating how to survive and still serve the community.

We spoke with owner and operator, Ras Peynado to see how things are going.

black owned pepper farm
Ras Peynado, owner of Herban Farm

What inspired you to start a farm?

I was inspired by the story my mother told me about her and my father’s dream to own/operate an urban farm in Seattle, Wa. My parents never were able to realize this dream since father died in Jamaica, a poor rastaman.

I later took part of his humble lifestyle (farming) and turned it into a profitable lifestyle. I’m also inspired by my own passion for growing medical marijuana.

black owned pepper and spice farm
Ras and his late father.

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected your business?

GREATLY! The Coronavirus completely devastated my business sales. I operate at Pike Place Market 4-7 days a week year-round depending on the season with a small sales agent team.

We primarily depend on tourism. Tourists that come into the city and even more on cruise ship tourism from April-October. Tourism accounts for 85%-90% of my sales and since March have not been able to set up at market due to the statewide lockdown in Washington.

Black Owned Pepper and Spice Farm

How has it affected your lifestyle?

It’s been hard however I have been able to keep busy living on my urban farm. Spring is always a busy time of year with the start of the farm season also a very expensive time of year.

I am continually investing in infrastructure, supplies, kitchen and farm expenses. It’s really hard to continue to do that without cash flow or capital during these times.

I keep a good spirit and stay to my work. I’m not the only one experiencing this. I miss being at my market surrounded by a community of over 100 farmers and 300 craftspeople.

What new strategies have you implemented or do you plan to implement in your business?

Working with local partners like Savor Seattle and the Atrium Kitchen At Pike Place to come up with creative ways to reach the locals. I create seasonings, sauces, vinegars and other infusions like my Hot Honey Sauce.

All new fresh flavors to use in the kitchen! This is the time when people are spending more time in the kitchen and needing to stay satisfied avoiding the same old stale flavors from the grocery store.

My partners have been able to gather other fresh local producers to create weekly boxes/bags that can be curbside picked up or delivered throughout the city services hundreds of customers so far.

 

If you had one ask of your community right now, what would it be?

To be patient with each other, to protect each other, to love each other, and to support each other.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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