For the 18 months since COVID-19’s onset in the United States, America’s small businesses have grappled with historic uncertainty. For many, SBA’s COVID-19 small-business recovery programs — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) — provided a vital lifeline.

In fact, as small businesses weathered COVID-19’s impact, record numbers of them turned to SBA funding. In Delaware, alone, program applicants tapped into $2.27 billion in PPP funds, $663.5 million in EIDL funds, $6.5 million in Targeted EIDL advance funds, $2.9 million in Supplemental Targeted Advance Funds, $67.8 million in RRF funds and $18.7 million in SVOG funds.

On the heels of COVID’s seemingly endless season of uncertainty, this summer brought a season of hope, ushering in glimpses of a new normal. By-and-large, entrepreneurs have been taking stock, assessing their footings and gearing up to move forward. And, to entrepreneurs of every stripe — from start-ups to Main Street mainstays, from those who have long used SBA programs to those whose first introduction to SBA support was through our COVID relief programs — SBA’s message is clear: Whatever the season, SBA is committed to helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Through thick and thin, small businesses can count on SBA support. Many know SBA for its traditional offerings — financing through our microloan, 7(a) and 504 loan programs; free-of-charge counseling through our outreach arm of Delaware SCORE, the Women’s Business Center at True Access Capital and the Delaware Small Business Development Center; and federal contracting guidance.

For many entrepreneurs, those traditional offerings are coming into sharper focus again as they chart a course forward. And enhancements to SBA’s traditional offerings are helping small businesses get back on their feet and stay there.

For example, on loans that are approved through SBA’s fiscal year end:

  • The upfront guaranty fees on all 7(a) loans, including Community Advantage, are zero;
  • The SBA express maximum loan (term loans and lines of credit) amount is increased to $1 million; and
  • Microloan terms are extended for up to eight years.

For American entrepreneurs and for SBA, the work of our COVID relief programs remains an important part of making America’s economy whole. That’s why SBA continues to approve billions of dollars every week through its EIDL Loan Program, which continues to accept applications through Dec. 31, 2021. And, for our PPP borrowers, SBA’s forgiveness portal makes it easier than ever to have their PPP loans forgiven.

With outstanding debt saddling millions of disadvantaged and under-served small businesses, increasing the rate of forgiveness to PPP borrowers will have an immediate effect in helping the smallest of small businesses recover from the pandemic and access other resources.

On the COVID grant front, SBA has begun awarding supplemental grant funds to qualifying venues. SVOG funds provide a critical lifeline for theaters, live venue spaces, and other entertainment and cultural hubs as they recover from the pandemic, re-open in many communities across the nation and continue contributing to local economies.

So, as we welcome the new fall season with whatever it brings, SBA stands as a committed small businesses partner. I encourage you to tap into all that SBA offers. Always available to help you along the way are the folks at SBA’s Delaware office, as well as our local resource partner organizations, such as Delaware SCORE, the Delaware Small Business Development Center and the Women’s Business Center at True Access Capital. You can connect with them and all of SBA’s resources through our sba.gov website.