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ECPs Begin Receiving Federal Loan Approvals to Help with COVID-19 Crisis

It means that ‘our team will still be in place when this is over,’ said one optometrist.

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Optometry offices have begun receiving approval notices for loans under the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program designed to ease the strain of the coronavirus crisis, reports the American Optometric Association.

The emergency relief loans are intended to cover business-related expenses, such as payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The loans can be forgiven if used for legitimate business expenses during the covered eight-week period.

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“Receiving word that we had been approved was a great relief,” said Dr. Steven Loomis, past president of AOA. “It meant that we did not have to lay off staff during this difficult period and that our team will still be in place when this is over.

Loomis’ practice applied April 6 and received notice of approval 50 hours later, according to a post on AOA’s website.

“While approval went quickly, the truth of the matter is that the application process took a fair amount of time,” Loomis said. “One of the things that made our application successful was that we were well informed about the PPP loan from the AOA.

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“I immediately contacted my banker and asked if they were participating. He honestly didn’t know much about it at that point, and in the beginning, I was his best source of information.”

The AOA conducted two webinars in recent weeks on the federal laws and financial options for doctors of optometry, led by Dr. Jeffrey Michaels, whose practice also was notified within four days that its loan application had been approved.

Dr. David Cockrell, whose practice also successfully applied to the loan program, said that knowing lenders’ relationships to the SBA can work in a practice’s favor.

“The lenders that are participating in the process must work through the SBA, so first and most importantly, make certain your lender is an SBA-approved lender,” said Cockrell, who chairs the AOA Advocacy Group. “Second is to ascertain your lender’s SBA status. The best is ‘preferred lender’ status. That essentially means they have had a long, successful experience in working with and complying with SBA requirements.”

After hearing from the AOA and other advocacy organizations about the urgent need for an expansion of relief efforts, congressional leaders are now preparing to fast-track bi-partisan legislation to increase PPP funding from $349 billion to $600 billion, the AOA notes.

For more information on how doctors of optometry and optometry practices can secure federal crisis relief aid, visit aoa.org/coronavirus or send an email to [email protected]

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