Simplifying PPP Forgiveness

The SBA is expected to release a portal that will ease the forgiveness process for many.

Good morning!

Here are today’s highlights:

  • Is it time to rethink the non-compete clause?

  • What impact will the Delta variant have on the U.S. economy?

  • And would you move to West Virginia for $12,000?

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

The SBA will simplify the PPP forgiveness process: “On Friday, the Small Business Administration is expected to unveil details on its as-yet-unlaunched Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness portal, through which certain small businesses can apply for loan forgiveness through the SBA. Currently, all borrowers need to apply for loan forgiveness directly at their lender. The SBA declined to comment further. The Philadelphia Business Journal, however, reported this week that based on documentation provided to developers, the PPP forgiveness portal would simplify the process for borrowers and lenders.”

  • “Chris Hurn of non-bank, small-business lender Fountainhead, told the Journal that he suspects direct loan forgiveness would be reserved for those with loans under $150,000.”

  • “Meanwhile, the SBA is separately working on a way to refine the loan forgiveness process for loans from $150,000 up to $2 million -- beyond the various iterations of simplified forgiveness applications SBA launched earlier in the pandemic, [SBA administrator Isabel] Guzman said in an interview with The Business Journal earlier in June.” READ MORE

HUMAN RESOURCES

The non-compete clause is getting a closer look: “This month, as part of a broad executive order aimed at bolstering competition in business and the labor market, President Biden called on the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit clauses in employment contracts that restrict workers’ freedom to change jobs. Firms impose non-compete clauses on employees to prevent them from sharing trade secrets or proprietary information with new employers. Over time, they have been applied to swaths of the U.S. workforce, ensnaring janitors, baristas, schoolteachers and entry-level workers along with more senior employees like software engineers, sales representatives and top executives.”

  • “Around 32 percent of U.S. companies include the clauses in all of their employment contracts regardless of position or pay, according to a survey ...”

  • “Use of non-compete clauses surged partly because templates can be found easily online and pasted into contracts, said Evan Starr, a professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and one of the authors of the survey.”

  • “An FTC spokeswoman said the agency has no guidance to share on its timeline or process.” READ MORE

A former CEO of Intuit wants remote workers to move to West Virginia: “A $25 million donation from former Intuit CEO Brad Smith and his wife, Alys, is making the ambitious initiative to bring remote workers to the state, called Ascend WV, a reality. Ascend WV launched in April. During a six-week process that closed in late May, 7,500 applications were received for just 50 spots. The highest number of applications came from Pennsylvania, Florida, and California. All of those who applied are vying for a $12,000 relocation package plus a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation—this includes things like zip-lining, off-roading, and yes, whitewater rafting and rock climbing. The program is currently focused on bringing people to Morgantown, where West Virginia University is based, but will soon expand to two other cities, Lewisburg and Shepherdstown, and aims to eventually relocate 1,000 people to the state.”

  • “‘We’re welcoming those that are fully employed who want to be a part of a contemporary experience-driven lifestyle,’ says Brad Smith, who grew up in Kenova, a West Virginia town that borders Kentucky and Ohio and has a population of 3,000 ‘if you round up.’”

  • “The former CEO waxes poetic about West Virginia’s natural beauty—the rock climbing, the rafting, the snowshoeing. But he’s realistic about the challenges ahead.”

  • “‘We’re very clear-eyed about some of the reputation that we may have earned over the years,’ says Smith. ‘We’ve also studied those who look like us and have emerged and created a new chapter.’” READ MORE

MARKETING

College-town businesses are turning to college athletes for endorsements: “The NCAA’s decision to allow athletes to cash in arrived July 1 with a few restrictions and even less guidance. There is no ‘pay for play’ allowed but many rulebook no-nos that once led to ineligibility are now largely fair game, provided the athlete provides some type of service — a social media shoutout, an appearance, a signature — in exchange for compensation. Schools are cobbling together policies or leaning on state laws permitting NIL [name, image, likeness] activities, along with having compliance staffers scrambling to ensure athletes follow guidelines.”

  • “Bret Oliverio says he wants college athletes to endorse his Sup Dogs restaurant along the main Franklin Street drag steps from the University of North Carolina.”

  • “He is just being patient before jumping into a brave new world. ... ‘I don’t know if an athlete wants 20 bucks or 20,000,’ he said, ‘so that’s what I’m trying to navigate.’”

  • “‘I would say it’s a beautiful mess,’ said Kurt Svoboda, an associate athletic director at Michigan. ‘It truly is. These are uncharted waters.’” READ MORE

THE COVID ECONOMY

With the Delta variant surging, more businesses are demanding vaccination proof: “Next time you go to the bar, make sure to bring your ID and your vaccine card (if you have one). L.A. TACO has learned that more than a dozen bars [in Los Angeles] — including The Short Stop, Footsie’s, Blind Barber, Bar Henry, The Lash, Melody Lounge and Gold Diggers Bar — have updated their Covid-19 policies within the past several days, and more are likely to follow.”

  • “Between the 4th of July and last Saturday, when the new county order for everyone to mask while indoors went into effect, the daily number of coronavirus cases quadrupled.”

  • “‘It’s been a shitty 15 months for everyone, especially businesses in hospitality and live venues,’ Bar Henry in Echo Park said in a statement posted on Instagram last Sunday. ‘Let’s do what we can together to avoid taking steps backwards.’” READ MORE

Cape Cod is weathering a Covid surge—even among the vaccinated—at the height of the tourist season: “Despite having one of the most vaccinated populations in the state, Cape Cod now has the highest rate of new Covid cases in Massachusetts. Health officials are battling an outbreak in Provincetown that has infected at least 132 people since July 1 — most of them vaccinated — as well as a cluster in a Yarmouth nursing home, where as many as 33 residents and staff are infected, many of them already vaccinated, too.”

  • “Reverberations from the Provincetown outbreak are already reaching Boston. The city’s Public Health Commission reported atleast 35 Covid-19 cases in Boston residents have been traced back to Provincetown and the ‘overwhelming majority of those have been fully vaccinated,’ officials said in a statement Tuesday.” READ MORE

Are we ready for mass transit? “A canvass of bus, rail, and subway lines at rush hour this week by [Boston] Globe reporters found the MBTA is slowly filling with more commuters — most of whom dutifully wore masks and seemed pretty comfortable riding public transit again. In more than a dozen interviews during the morning and afternoon rush hours on Tuesday, passengers said they felt reasonably safe, even as they cast a wary eye on the Delta variant. Some pointed to the state’s high vaccination rates. More than 62 percent of Massachusetts residents are now fully vaccinated, and nearly 70 percent have had at least one shot.”

  • “Given the recent rise in the spread of the Delta variant — even among those who are vaccinated — the mask rule still feels essential to many folks.”

  • “Ridership on buses has bounced back more than any other mode on the MBTA system; the network retained54 percent of its ridership from two years ago. A year ago, ridership hovered around 35 percent of June 2019 numbers.” READ MORE

Economists don’t expect the Delta variant to slow the recovery: “The highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 doesn’t pose an immediate risk to the strength of the U.S. economic recovery, with analysts expecting a robust expansion to continue in the second half of the year. Many economists are maintaining forecasts for solid economic growth due to expectations of steady hiring and continued spending, driven by accumulated savings and Americans’ desire to travel and socialize more than a year into the pandemic. They see limited disruptions to the economy as local health officials try to avoid restrictions and boost vaccinations in response to the recent case surge.”

  • “Economists are more concerned about firming inflation than the Delta variant as they assess the economic outlook.”

  • “Oxford, a forecasting firm, hasn’t changed its projection for U.S. gross domestic product—a broad measure of the economy’s output of goods and services. It expects GDP to rise at nearly a 9 percent annualized pace in the third quarter.” READ MORE

CALIFORNIA

A California power company plans to bury its power lines in fire-prone areas—at a cost of $20 billion: “The utility company, which serves about 16 million customers in northern and central California, said the effort will substantially reduce the likelihood of its power lines sparking wildfires as drought and climate change heighten the risk of large, fast-moving blazes. ‘We know that we have long argued that undergrounding was too expensive,’ Chief Executive Patti Poppe said. ‘This is where we say it’s too expensive not to underground. Lives are on the line.’” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 69: “I Didn’t Look Like Them, But I Could Act Like Them” This week, we introduce a new regular on the 21 Hats Podcast team. Her name is Diana Lee, and she’s the founder of a digital marketing agency. In a conversation with Jay Goltz and Stephanie Stuckey, Diana explains how she got her business off the ground by helping car dealers target diverse communities within their markets, how she bootstrapped her business by convincing those car dealers to prepay 50-percent upfront, and how her first attempt at building a software platform ended with her spending $1 million on a platform that no one wanted to use.

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren