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DENVER (KDVR) — Businesses that have fewer than 500 employees will have the ability to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) starting April 3.

PPP is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan that is designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program is meant for small businesses that have less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.

Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees, if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those particular industries.

Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible at the store and location level. If the store employs less than 500 workers, each store location could be eligible.

SBA will forgive loans if the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. At least 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll, and all employees must be kept on the payroll for eight weeks.

Loan payments will be deferred for six months and no collateral or personal guarantees are required. No fees will be charged by the government or lenders.

Forgiveness will be based on the employer maintaining salary levels and employees. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines or if wages or salaries decrease.

The loan has a maturity of two years with an interest rate of half a percent.

If you are eligible to apply, you can do so through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union or Farm Credit System institution that is participating.

For more information or to apply for PPP, visit the Small Business Administration’s website.