One of the missions of Derreck Johnson’s Black Owned Project is sharing information to assure Black business thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. According to the Home of Chicken and Waffles founder Johnson, “I’ve been fortunate to have educated information that saved my enterprises.”
Currently the Federal Government is assisting small businesses with PPP grants and Johnson wants to make sure business owners don’t miss a prime opportunity to keep their doors open.
“I was skeptical of the PPP program at first as the last thing I needed was another loan or another bill to pay. But PPP . . . and allowed [Home of Chicken and Waffles] to pivot to sustain . . . and keep . . . employees employed.”
Johnson’s interest in PPP has a lot to do with the people currently running the Federal Government, President Biden and Vice President Harris. Harris is Johnson’s childhood best friend.
“I have so much more trust now in the Feds now that Kamala is there. She is so efficient, I can’t think of anything Kamala didn’t get involved in that she didn’t make better. When I was having tax issues, knowing how she operates made me check myself and tighten up my game. Her work ethic and tenacity showed me the results of a job well done when you’re willing to roll up your sleeves. After her run for the Attorney General race, we went to Napa and I was lamenting how raggedy my paperwork was. During that trip she inspired me to correct my IRS situation, and tighten up my life personally and in business.”
Johnson cites lingering mistrust but notes the government did what it said it was going to do. “And in return, Chicken and Waffles did what we were supposed to do, the initial money we received was forgiven and now it’s time for round two.”
Johnson recommends business owners align with a community-based bank, stating that from personal experience it doesn’t seem the major banks are the way to go.
“I recommend community banks because you can talk to the decision makers. Community banks like Summit Bank service a lot of black people. They are small and they have done great things for the black community.” Johnson cites Beneficial and Community Bank of the Bay also as potential banks that may assist.
Despite Johnson’s recommendation, he stresses the importance of doing personal research and speaking to other businesses that have received PPP funds. He also worries that some business owners will perceive PPP as free money with no attachments. “When you receive these funds make sure you reinvest to run your business more efficiently, as it will improve your profitability. Most important, if you use funds appropriately, you don’t have to pay it back.
There is a formula for PPP loans based upon payroll and that number indicates the amount business owners can apply for, which makes the process pretty easy. Says Johnson. “If you need help filing 941’s or payroll records in order to qualify, contact Cathy Adams at the Black Chamber of Commerce, she can assist you as the process is automated.”