man with a mask delivering food to driver in the car.Is your organization applying to the second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding (PPP-2)? If so, be sure to review the updated guidelines for this funding round.

The program is open to all eligible entities from March 10 through March 31, 2021.  To help businesses with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors access these forgivable loans, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced a priority application window from Wednesday, February 24 through Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

This second wave of PPP funding will continue to provide loans to eligible businesses—both those that received funding before and those that weren’t selected in round one. The interim rule, as outlined by the Economic Aid Act, details updates to eligibility requirements and temporary changes to PPP-2 support.

The federal government seeks to include more small businesses as funding recipients. More business types are eligible to apply, including housing cooperatives, broadcast news organizations, and 501(6) organizations.

Additional expenditure types can be included in submitted loan applications. Recent updates to legislation on PPP-2 loans clarify the specific types of expenditures that are eligible to be covered:

  1. Any business software or cloud computing service facilitating business operations
  2. Product or service delivery
  3. Payment or tracking of payroll expenses
  4. Accounting or tracking of supplies
  5. Human resources
  6. Sales or billing functions
  7. Worker protection

As more businesses seek to sustain themselves in a remote environment, business leaders are more frequently cutting back on physical infrastructure and processes as they continue to adjust to both virtual and hybrid work environments.

Review updated guidelines

This new federal administration is emphasizing for small businesses (SMBs) and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees on payroll. If you’re a small business owner, we’d encourage you to view this adjusted timeline as a strategic opportunity. Should you fall within the outlined parameters, your business can apply during an exclusive time window.

Why is the SBA emphasizing businesses of this size? The federal government is strategically highlighting the funding opportunity to include more businesses that operate in rural areas, women’s business enterprises (WBEs), and small businesses owned by minorities (MBEs). The SBA’s emphasis on small business support aligns closely with our supplier diversity initiatives. At Microsoft, we’re committed to supporting local, state, and federal supplier diversity through our procurement processes. Amendments made to PPP-2 eligibility guidelines will empower more small business owners to apply for funding that can sustain business operations as the economy recovers.

Grow your business virtually with added support

Applicants that receive PPP funding in this round can potentially receive support, as well as loan forgiveness, for updated operational expenditures.

The right technology can improve how your team communicates, as well as how you collaborate externally. If you receive PPP-2 loan funding, expenditures earmarked for technology can be covered. As you continue to navigate a path ahead for your business, carefully consider how technology can support you and your team. Many businesses have cut back on operational costs, including reducing physical workstations to support employees in staying safe and healthy, while remaining productive.

Consider low-cost cloud solutions to support your operations

For more information on how small businesses can use technology to support virtual business operations, visit our COVID-19 resource center. There, you can explore cloud technology packages that can enable and support collaboration within your team in a remote work environment, help your business attract more customers, and think through your organization’s data and device security. You can also review tools and information from featured collaborators. Start exploring today to help your business navigate a virtual work culture.