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Business Buzz

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Watersheds offering scholarships

The State Association of Kansas Watersheds is offering two $300 scholarships for high school seniors entering college or vocational schools this fall. Interested students must first apply to their local watershed district to be considered for the state scholarship.

Sand Creek Watershed District No. 68 and Doyle Creek Watershed District No. 86 are accepting applications and will select one each from their respective district to advance to the state competition. Applicants must be a high school senior and must reside in the watershed district in which they are applying. Agriculture-related majors are preferred, but not required.

Both Sand Creek and Doyle Creek Watershed Districts are in parts of Harvey and Marion Counties. Property tax statements can be used to identify if you live in a watershed district and which one. For more information or to receive an application, contact the Harvey County Conservation District Office by calling 316-282-3460. The deadline for application is Feb. 15.

Emergency unemployment program to launch 

The Kansas Department of Labor announced Feb. 12 the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation  program, an unemployment extension provision contained in H.R. 133, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 will be implemented and begin paying out no later than Feb. 19.

The extension, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, allows claimants receiving PEUC to claim an additional 11 weeks of benefit payments, adjusting the total number of weeks available under the program from 13 weeks to 24 weeks. KDOL has already implemented the other major provisions of the Continued Assistance Act, including additional Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments of $300 to claimants receiving weekly benefit payments; and extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program from 39 weeks to 50 weeks. 

his timeline for implementation of Continued Assistance Act provisions is consistent with other states across the country that utilize legacy systems. The agency will have a follow up announcement on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance next week when the program launches.

Since March 15, 2020, KDOL has paid out over 4 million weekly claims totaling over $2.7 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs. For more information, or to apply for unemployment benefits, go to www.GetKansasBenefits.gov.

SBA extends assistance

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Small Business Administration  published an interim final rule in January allowing 8(a) Program participants to elect a one-year program extension in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program due to the challenges of COVID-19.

Eligible 8(a) firms must meet the following qualifications:

• Any firm that participated in the 8(a) Program between March 13, 2020, and September 9, 2020, has the option to extend its program participation for one year from the end of its program term;

• Firms that were terminated, early graduated, or voluntarily withdrew from the 8(a) Program during this period are not eligible for the extension; and

• Firms admitted to the 8(a) Program on or after September 10, 2020, are not eligible for the extension.

Automatic Extensions:

• Firms participating in the 8(a) Program on January 13, 2021, will receive an automatic one-year program extension unless they decline it in writing. 

• If an 8(a) firm previously elected to voluntarily suspend its program participation in connection with the nationwide coronavirus emergency disaster declaration, the length of the suspension will first be added to the firm’s program term, and the one-year extension will be added to the end of that extension. 

• Firms that elect to extend their participation in the program will not be subject to a higher non-8(a) business activity target (BAT) for the extension period. The same 50 percent  BAT that applies to the ninth program year will apply to the extended program term.

• Firms that do not wish to receive the automatic program extension are required to submit notice of decline in writing to:

SBA’s Associate Administrator, Office of Business Development, Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street SW, Washington, DC 20416 or email to 8aQuestions@sba.gov.

Graduated Firms:

• Firms that were participating in the 8(a) Program as of March 13, 2020, but graduated before January 13, 2021, are eligible for program readmittance. 

• Firms seeking readmittance must notify SBA as soon as possible, but no later than March 15, 2021. As a condition of readmittance, a firm must certify that it continues to meet all applicable program eligibility requirements. If readmitted, the extension date is the firm’s original program exit date. For example, a firm with a program completion date of April 15, 2020 is readmitted Jan. 25, 2021, their new program end date is April 15, 2021. 

• Firms must submit readmittance notification to SBA’s Associate Administrator, Office of Business Development, Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street SW, Washington, DC 20416 or email to 8aQuestions@sba.gov

SBA will readmit a firm to the 8(a) Program within five business days of receiving a readmittance request. The firm’s new program completion date is one year from the date it initially completed the program, not the date the final rule was published.

Public comments to the interim final rule can be submitted, identified by RIN: 3245-AH64, by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Email: Van Tran, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Business Development, Small Business Administration, at 8aQuestions@sba.gov.

Firms participating in the 8(a) Business Development can email questions to:  8aQuestions@sba.gov. For more questions about the 8(a) Business Development program, visit: 8(a) Business Development program (sba.gov).  

The SBA certifies small businesses considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged under its nine-year 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) program helps these firms develop and grow their businesses through one-to-one counseling, training workshops and management and technical guidance.  It also provides access to government contracting opportunities, allowing them to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace.