Small Business Emergency Assistance Facilitates $9.9 Million in Loans

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Small Business Emergency Assistance program has barely been underway for two months, but it has already proved to be a major source of support for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Timely and knowledgeable assistance has helped  small businesses secure more than $9.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, with more than $1.5 million in loans still pending.

This has provided a crucial lifeline to Northwest Arkansas-based businesses and organizations struggling to navigate the COVID-19 related shutdown.

Created in just eight days and launched on March 31, the Small Business Emergency Assistance program is currently consulting with 551 active clients. Of those active clients, 223 are new sign-ups, while the rest are clients who had previous relationships with the University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Center, which has oversight of the program.

“The challenges facing our new and existing clients during the COVID-19 crisis have been overwhelming,” said Mary Beth Brooks, director of the U of A Small Business and Technology Development Center. “The vast majority were considered non-essential businesses and required to close their doors, laying off most or all of their employees. After two months of helping folks navigate the complex and constantly changing process, disaster assistance is finally being delivered. It is great to see businesses slowly reopen and we know it will take time to settle into the new ‘normal.’ The work is ongoing and it is rewarding to be able to help our friends and neighbors and have real impact in the recovery of the Northwest Arkansas small business community.”

Julia Sanchez, CEO of Havana Tropical Grill in Rogers, said of her experience with the program: “Facing loss, I was confused, full of concerns and unclear on where to go or how to take advantage of government disaster assistance. Through the Paycheck Protection Program webinar and one-on-one counseling offered by the SBEA, I was provided information and resources not easily available. They made the information that I found complex and hard to understand extremely easy, digestible and were a constant support. This would have been much more difficult and stressful without their help.”

In addition to assistance with loan applications, the Small Business Emergency Assistance program offers financial reviews, one-on-one counseling, business planning and other services.

The Small Business Emergency Assistance program is a result of a partnership between the University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Northwest Arkansas Council. The purpose of the program is to provide services free-of-charge to assist organizations with access to U.S. Small Business Administration and other federal, state and local programs. The Walton Family Foundation provided a grant to the Northwest Arkansas Council at the recommendation of Steuart Walton and Tom Walton to support the Small Business Emergency Assistance program.

The Small Business Emergency Assistance will host its next webinar on June 4 to help businesses understand the Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Application and calculations. To learn more about the webinar or to participate in the program, organizations can email, call (479) 575-5148 or visit the program website.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Hardin Young, assistant director of research communications
University Relations


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