Financial Assistance Q&A with Colin Sears of Business Oregon

We got the chance to chat with Colin Sears of Business Oregon face-to-face (virtually) for an hour. Here’s what we learned about PPP, EIDL, and unemployment.
| By Lilly Joynes

Business Oregon is the state economic office. Colin Sears is staffing the Small Business Navigator Hotline at least 4 hours per day. He’s an expert in eligibility for the relief programs available to small businesses and self-employed individuals. We’re grateful to have had the chance to chat with him directly for an hour—thanks to all that joined us. Here’s what we learned.


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SUBMIT PUA MATERIALS Visit this page to file an initial claim or weekly certification.


Newest Developments

  • Unemployment system had a lot of problems on Monday (4/27) and crashed.
  • The Small Business Navigator Hotline is a live phone line as of 3 days ago. There are 15 people at the agency taking calls. The number is 833-604-0880.
  • PUA: opened Tuesday (4/28) in Oregon; will also receive the $600 extra; both will be retroactive.
  • Sole proprietors weren’t eligible for unemployment until Tuesday. So if you filed a claim before that under the traditional unemployment rules, you will be denied. Start fresh on PUA application.
  • As of Tuesday night (4/28), $50 billion of the new $310 billion for PPP was given out.>
  • As of 10am Wednesday (4/29) EIDL programs were not accepting new applications. They think it’s because there are so many already in the queue, they want to get through those first.
  • Many of the most recent approvals were to small banks, which we have a lot of in Oregon (compared to Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.). There are other alternatives like going through PayPal, Square.


We know it’s important to you whether this will be treated as a loan or a grant. We’ve sent follow-up questions for additional clarification.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program is a 2-year loan with no payments at all for 6 months. Interest does accrue during that period at a rate of 1%.
  • They changed the rules of the program so that you can still give yourself a paycheck if you’re a Sole Proprietor
    • Awaiting clarification on technical definition of “payroll” and “paying yourself”<
  • If you use at least 75% of the funds for payroll, your loan will be forgiven. In other words, it becomes a grant. If you use less than 75% for payroll, it will be treated as a loan.
    • Awaiting follow-up info on if interest will be forgiven too.>
  • Save your receipts and be really diligent about your accounting if you choose PPP.
  • If you receive over $2 million from PPP, you will be audited; others will be spot-audited
  • Apply through a bank that’s taking applications; most are funded within 2 weeks


  • If you receive PUA benefits, you’ll also get the $600. You will be paid retroactive to the date you say you became unemployed on your PUA application.
  • He’s not certain how long the $600/week benefit will last. Look at your personal situation and see what seems best for you.
  • For unemployment you don’t really have to worry about keeping receipts, in regards to your chances of being audited.
  • Awaiting clarification:
    • If I applied under original UI and didn’t know I wasn’t eligible, should I proactively re-apply for PUA? Or wait to be denied?
    • Do I need to upload proof of insurance with my PUA application, or is just the PUA app okay?


How can I take advantage of multiple programs?

  • Use PPP to pay your paycheck(s); EIDL to pay rent, operations, etc.
  • You could apply for PPP, let it run out, then apply for PUA.
  • You can always get approved for a loan and not take it. So if PPP seems like a good option for you, apply ASAP.

Is it worth applying to multiple banks?

  • Each bank has a certain allocation amount, or cap
  • It doesn’t hurt to apply for the same loan 2-3 times and see which one gets approved first; SBA doesn’t recommend it but you can technically do it.

What if I work in multiple states? Which one do I apply to for unemployment?

Awaiting follow-up information.

Word-of-Mouth Resources

  • Fax Number. You should get confirmation almost immediately. (I have heard from 16 people so far) 503-371-2893
  • Someone got approved through Lendio in 2 days

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