More than 40 participants signed onto the Zoom virtual meeting platform April 8 to attend the first La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) meeting to take place online.
Although board volunteers said they’ve personally contacted more than 1,300 businesses to offer them assistance, the meeting centered on resources for businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
LJVMA president Brett Murphy said he would like the board to be chief among these resources.
“Look,” he chuckled, “Where do you begin on something like this? I know the last four weeks have been pretty terrible for a lot of people and we still don’t have a date at which we can go back to work.
“But I wanted to tell everybody the La Jolla Merchants Association wants and needs to be your resource during this uncertain time.”
Murphy reminded attendees there are Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under the U.S. Small Business Administration for which owners of small businesses could apply.
“I’ve applied for every single one of the packages and I would encourage you to do the same, assuming you qualify for them,” he said.
According to press material, the PPP was launched April 3 as a $349 billion emergency loan program with the President’s signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses left financially distressed by the pandemic. The loans will be administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions.
The loans are available to cover up to eight weeks of average monthly payroll (based on 2019 figures) plus 25 percent, and payments are deferred for six months (interest does accrue). The Small Business Administration will forgive the portion of loan proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated operating expenses for up to eight weeks, provided at least 75 percent of loan proceeds are used for payroll costs.
Eligible expenses for the eight-week forgiveness include:
• Payroll costs (excluding the prorated portion of any compensation above $100,000 per year) for any person. Payroll costs include salary, commissions, tips; certain employee benefits including sick leave and health care premiums, and state and local taxes;
• Mortgage interest (not prepayment or principal payments) and rent payments on mortgages and leases in existence after February 15, 2020;
• Utilities such as electricity, gas, water, transportation, phone and Internet access for services that began before Feb. 15, 2020.
Visit sba.gov/coronavirus for more information.
However, Murphy cautioned that “fraud is already rampant” as part of this program, and phony participants are posing as entities that can provide a loan.
LJVMA executive director Jodi Rudick reiterated: “Do not fall victim to a scam in this situation, apply only through Small Business Administration or your local bank.”
To support the 60-plus La Jolla restaurants offering take-out and delivery, LJVMA vice-president Julie Wright encouraged the community to participate in “Take-Out Tuesday,” during which residents make a point to order food from local eateries on a weekly basis.
Local blogger La Jolla Mom was approved for an associate membership, which offers some of the LJVMA perks, but for businesses outside the 30-block Business Improvement District.
The LJVMA also has one open board position, for which chiropractor Nevin Ramona is the sole applicant. Her membership will be voted upon at the next meeting.
At the conclusion of the meeting, president Murphy offered words of encouragement. “We know COVID-19 will change our Village forever, but we together can determine what that will look like,” he said. “We must take this time as an opportunity to change and make positive improvements for our community and fellow business leaders.”
The plan is currently to continue to meet via Zoom until the shelter-in-place order is lifted, and those looking to virtually attend a meeting can visit lajollabythesea.com for details. The next meeting is 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. However, Rudick noted: “If we do not have any emergency actions required, it is our prerogative as a board to postpone a meeting.”
— Learn more about La Jolla Village Merchants Association at lajollabythesea.com