A man walks by the former location of BRGR Bar on Brown Street in Portland on Friday Jan. 8, 2021. The empty restaurant location is one of almost 50 sitting idle in the city. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The first Maine businesses could start applying for a new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans on Monday, but the rollout is happening in phases and the process this time is different, with some required to give financial information and other details for a second loan.

The loans are part of the $900 billion federal stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump in December. The package includes $284 billion for a new round of the paycheck loans, which have helped many Maine employers keep on workers and stay afloat amid coronavirus pandemic restrictions. The loans are forgivable if borrowers can prove they used 60 percent or more on payroll.

Last year, Maine small businesses applied for more than 28,000 loans totaling close to $2.3 billion by August in the forgivable small business loan program championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in the first pandemic stimulus package in March.

First-time borrowers can apply for a loan of up to $10 million if they have 500 or fewer employees. Repeat borrowers can only apply for up to $2 million. They must have 300 or fewer employees.

New borrowers were able to start applying Monday for loans at smaller community financial institutions with less than $1 billion in average total assets over the previous three years. Businesses that got loans last year can apply starting Wednesday for a second loan. Banks and credit unions with $1 billion or less in assets can start offering the loans Friday, and the larger financial institutions can offer them starting next Tuesday. The deadline for both first and return borrowers to apply is March 31.

Banks and credit unions said they expect fewer applicants with smaller loans this time around, and most will be businesses seeking a second loan. Chris Fitzpatrick, executive vice president at Machias Savings Bank, advised potential borrowers to talk to their lenders before applying because there are various options for loans, including a first-time loan, a modification of an existing loan or a second loan.

The bank, which sits above $1 billion in assets, will be able to take applications next Tuesday. Fitzpatrick said most queries from businesses so far are for second loans. Those companies must show a 25 percent loss in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2020 and 2019.

“People can either give us the QuickBooks information if they have that or three months of bank statements for each year reflecting what their deposits were into their account,” Fitzpatrick said.

Most banks and credit unions will have application procedures on their website or references to the website of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which administers the loans. The Machias Savings Bank website tells businesses that the application and loan process will be a bit slower this time because the federal government is trying to reduce fraud and make sure the money goes to smaller businesses that need it most.

The bank also said the money is not expected to run out quickly, and businesses have until March 31, 2021, to apply. The earlier rounds of federal loans faced a rush of applications, system downtimes and concerns among applicants that the money would run out.

Accommodation and food services businesses, which have been especially hard hit by pandemic restrictions, can qualify for a loan that includes 3.5 times their monthly payroll cost rather than the usual 2.5 times, but they must have a North American Industry Classification System code of 72, designating that the company provides lodging and or prepares food or drinks for immediate consumption. The code appears on business income tax returns.

The five-page application for first-time borrowers, which includes an optional one-page demographic survey, asks a series of questions including whether the business was in operation on Feb. 15, 2020, and is not permanently closed, as well as the NAICS code, the average monthly payroll, the number of employees and the purpose of the loan.

Repeat borrowers are asked many of the same questions on their application as initial borrowers, with the addition of certifying the 25 percent reduction in gross receipts. Applicants for loans of $150,000 or less can leave that information blank but they must provide documentation when they apply for forgiveness or if the Small Business Administration, which gives final approval to the loans, asks for it.

Would-be borrowers should check with their financial institution or the Small Business Administration’s website to make sure they have the most up-to-date version of the application.