Business & Workforce Resources

Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection

Updated May 18, 2021

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. Borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness.

SBA is currently offering PPP loans originated only by participating community financial institutions including Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA Microlenders, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) until May 31, 2021 or until remaining funds are exhausted. Please note that not all community financial institutions are participating in PPP.

For more information and to find an eligible lender that is participating in the PPP: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.

IRS: Employee Retention Tax Credit

Updated May 18, 2021

The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020, made a number of changes to the employee retention tax credits previously made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including modifying and extending the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), for six months through June 30, 2021. Several of the changes apply only to 2021, while others apply to both 2020 and 2021.

As a result of the new legislation, eligible employers can now claim a refundable tax credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70% of the qualified wages they pay to employees after December 31, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Qualified wages are limited to $10,000 per employee per calendar quarter in 2021. Thus, the maximum ERC amount available is $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter, for a total of $14,000 in 2021.

Employers can access the ERC for the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2021 prior to filing their employment tax returns by reducing employment tax deposits. Small employers (i.e., employers with an average of 500 or fewer full-time employees in 2019) may request advance payment of the credit (subject to certain limits) on Form 7200, Advance of Employer Credits Due to Covid-19, after reducing deposits. In 2021, advances are not available for employers larger than this.

Effective January 1, 2021, employers are eligible if they operate a trade or business during January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, and experience either:

  • A full or partial suspension of the operation of their trade or business during this period because of governmental orders limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to COVID-19, or
  • A decline in gross receipts in a calendar quarter in 2021 where the gross receipts of that calendar quarter are less than 80% of the gross receipts in the same calendar quarter in 2019 (to be eligible based on a decline in gross receipts in 2020 the gross receipts were required to be less than 50%).

Employers that did not exist in 2019 can use the corresponding quarter in 2020 to measure the decline in their gross receipts. In addition, for the first and second calendar quarters in 2021, employers may elect in a manner provided in future IRS guidance to measure the decline in their gross receipts using the immediately preceding calendar quarter (i.e., the fourth calendar quarter of 2020 and first calendar quarter of 2021, respectively) compared to the same calendar quarter in 2019.

In addition, effective January 1, 2021, the definition of qualified wages was changed to provide:

  • For an employer that averaged more than 500 full-time employees in 2019, qualified wages are generally those wages paid to employees that are not providing services because operations were fully or partially suspended or due to the decline in gross receipts. 
  • For an employer that averaged 500 or fewer full-time employees in 2019, qualified wages are generally those wages paid to all employees during a period that operations were fully or partially suspended or during the quarter that the employer had a decline in gross receipts regardless of whether the employees are providing services. 

Retroactive to the March 27, 2020, enactment of the CARES Act, the law now allows employers who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to claim the ERC for qualified wages that are not treated as payroll costs in obtaining forgiveness of the PPP loan.

More information:

Got Questions? Athens Business Support Email at BusinessSupport@accgov.com

The ACCGov Economic Development Department is partnering with other local entities on a business support email hotline at BusinessSupport@accgov.com to answer your questions and share info with local businesses.

If you have questions related to coronavirus concerns for your business or seeking help with business and workforce resources and opportunities, send an email to BusinessSupport@accgov.com and have your questions answered by ACCGov Economic Development or a local partner organization.

Community partners that will help answer questions include the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Department; the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce; Blasingame, Burch, Garrard and Ashley; Fortson, Bentley and Griffin; UGA Small Business Development Center - Athens Center; and the Athens Downtown Development Authority.

In addition to providing direct responses to questions, ACCGov will post answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ACCGov Business & Workforce Resources web page.

Small Business Information and Resources

Please share this information with your network and neighboring businesses.

Contact Your Lender(s)

Unemployment Claims Information

For Employers

Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) services & resources are available at dol.georgia.gov/.

GDOL Athens Career Center: Currently closed to the public to protect its employees and customers. The center remains open for GDOL employees to ensure support for customer needs and to continue processing unemployment claims.

Employers are mandated by the state to electronically file partial claims on behalf of your employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily lay workers off, including reducing their work hours or temporarily closing due to COVID-19. Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically.

All Georgia employers share in the cost of the unemployment benefits paid to employees temporarily displaced due to COVID-19. If you do not electronically file partial claims on behalf of your employees, however, your business will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of the unemployment benefits paid to your employee(s).

For Residents 

Your Employer May Be Filing Your Claim For You

  • The Georgia Department of Labor currently requires employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees. These claims will be for any week during which an employee worked less than his or her regular full-time or part-time schedule due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.  
  • If your employer is filing a partial claim, you do not need to file. Talk to your employer.  Tell your employer whether or not you want taxes withheld. If you have taxes withheld, GDOL with withhold 10% for federal taxes and 6% for state taxes.
  • Unemployment benefits are paid on a weekly basis.  Payments will be released within 24 hours after your employer files a partial claim on your behalf.
  • If you file your own claim, your payments will be released once a written determination to allow benefits is released.

You do not have to go to the Department of Labor

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has temporarily suspended in-person requirements for services provided by the agency.  GDOL is providing online access to unemployment services at dol.georgia.gov/

Please remember, your claim may be delayed due to overwhelming requests for service due to COVID-19.  

  • If you are sent home due to lack of work because of COVID-19 and you are not getting paid for time off you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.  
  • If your employer is filing partial claims for you, you do not need to file.
  • If you quit your job or voluntarily choose to stay out of work due to COVID-9, you must file your own claim. GDOL will review your claim and determine eligibility.
  • If both you and your employer filed a claim, contact the local career center at dol.georgia.gov. 
  • Unemployment payments will be made by direct deposit or Georgia UI Way2Go Debit Mastercard.
  • Extended unemployment benefits are not available at this time.
  • If you chose to not work due to fear of exposure to COVID-19, GDOL will determine eligibility on a case by case basis.

How to File an Unemployment Claim

Gather your information

You will need:

  • Social security number
  • Georgia Driver’s License if you have one
  • Bank’s routing and account number (if you want to receive your benefit payments via direct deposit)
  • Work history information for the last 18 months

File your claim online

  • Go to https://dol.georgia.gov/.
  • Select the link labeled “Apply for Unemployment Benefits”.
  • Answer the questions completely. Report gross wages and any leave pay as earnings for each week claimed for benefits.
  • Download the “Claimant Handbook” and read it.  This handbook has a section called “next steps” that you will need to follow to submit your claim.
  • Record your confirmation number. A confirmation email is sent to the email address that you provide.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation number, the application was not successfully submitted. Log in again within 24 hours and make sure you select FINISH to receive a confirmation number.  An incomplete application is only kept on the system for 24 hours.  If you do not submit it, you will have to start over.

What do I do after I file?

  • Request your weekly benefit payment every week at https://dol.georgia.gov/.
  • On the first Sunday after filling your claim login and select “Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments” on the GDOL home page.
  • Monitor your voicemail and email. GDOL will contact you if they require additional information.
  • Respond immediately to all requests for additional information.
  • You will not have to report to a career center.
  • If you have claimed a week of benefits and have not received your written “Claims Examiner’s Determination” within 21 days of the filed date, you may call UI Customer Service at 404.232.3001 (in Metro Atlanta) or 1.877.709.8185 (in all other areas).
  • For additional information or to submit a claim, please visit https://dol.georgia.gov/.

The Department of Labor will allow you to file a claim and get information by phone, although you may experience long wait times. Call the Athens DOL Career Center at (706) 583-2550.


Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Business Support

Athens-Clarke County Department of Economic Development is available remotely via phone, email, and video conferencing to assist with your business needs and help direct you to available resources.