Newtown Macon offices in Downtown Macon.

Newtown Macon offices in Downtown Macon.

Credit: Liz Fabian/CCJ

Business owners struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic have new opportunities for economic relief from the federal government.

NewTown Macon CEO Josh Rogers hosted a webinar Friday to help businesses and non-profit organizations navigate the application process.

“Let’s go ahead and get the applications in and get this money pumped into the businesses downtown so that we survive,” Rogers said. “I don’t want anybody to miss out on something they were eligible for.”

When the first round of Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP,  and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, or EIDL, were offered last summer, some people let the opportunity pass them by.

“If you’re eligible, I need you to apply,” Rogers said. “I can’t tell you how many businesses have come in to see us and they were doing OK a year ago and now things are tough.”

Main Street Macon manager Emily Hopkins reminded merchants and business owners that most of them could use a boost this time of year.

“Revenues for the first quarter of the year are always down in the best of times and the rise of cases will make that worse in the coming months,” Hopkins stated in an email. “It’s better to have this cash on hand in case you need it rather than wish you had it in a couple of months.”

NewTown is maintaining a list of available lenders that are currently taking applications for relief.

Navigating the process can be daunting, but NewTown is available to help.

Most businesses will qualify that were open as of Feb. 15, 2020, and have had a 25 percent drop in revenue for at least one quarter of 2020 compared to 2019.

The money must be necessary to keep the business open.

PPP funding of up to 2.5 times average monthly payroll is available for most businesses with fewer than 300 employees and 3.5 times average monthly payroll for the hospitality industry. In many instances, these loans might not have to be repaid.

While last year’s relief for nonprofits only covered 501(c)3 designation, these loans cover all 501(c) groups.

“This is a big deal because our visitor’s bureau and chamber (of commerce) here are struggling just as much as any of the other nonprofits that needed relief in this program so now they’ll be able to apply,” Rogers said.

More money also is provided for the low-interest EIDL loans available until the end of 2021. If you didn’t get an advance last year or got less than $10,000, you can apply.

Because downtown Macon is a low-income community, businesses can get loans if they had an economic loss greater than 30 percent in any eight-week period.

NewTown staff encourages everyone to take advantage of the low interest loans even if it is only for cushion if unexpected expenses arrive.

“This is some of the cheapest money you can borrow and can help you do things to strengthen your business now so you have an even stronger recovery,” Hopkins said.

Plus, during these trying times banks and financial institutions might be reluctant to lend money outside of the federal programs, Rogers said.

New pandemic unemployment benefits also have been enacted with an extra $300 per week from the federal government over state benefits and $300 a week for “gig workers,” like musicians, who aren’t eligible for state unemployment.

This time, live venue operators such as theaters, museums and zoos that were forced to close due to COVID-19 can also apply for revenue relief if they suffered at least a 25 percent reduction in revenue in any 2020 quarter compared to 2019.

The NewTown webinar is available online at and they have compiled a list of instructions Anyone needing additional information is invited to call for assistance of visit NewTown’s website.

Rogers warns that we are “not out of the woods yet” when it comes to the economic effects of the pandemic.

“You may be thinking, ‘I’m doing great. I don’t need any government money. I can do this on my own.’ Well, let me tell you, your competitors are going to take this if they qualify and it’s going to leave you at a disadvantage.”