DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) -In January the SBA and the treasury department launched a second round of PPP funding. This time $284.5 billion dollars is being given out. The deadline to apply is March 31.

“You can use it for payroll, employee benefits, rent insurance payments…property damage [from[ some of the riots and things that went on in the summer of 2020…,” explained Maggie Ference, SBA director for Huntington Bank.

For this second round of funding, the focus is on small businesses or sole proprietors who might have missed out on the first chance to apply for PPP funding.

“We’re seeing a lot of farmers this go around who didn’t partake the first time. We’re seeing a lot of self employed contractors, we’re seeing sole proprietors and people who didn’t feel comfortable with the last go round,” said Joel Bopp, senior commercial lender with Minster Bank.

With less than a month until the application deadline, Congressman Mike Turner is saying that business owners shouldn’t be shy about applying.

“Their competitors are applying for these dollars and if you want to look to the future, as we’re coming out of this COVID crisis, having a healthy balance sheet can be benefited by accessing these dollars,” he said.

“Don’t assume [that] you don’t qualify and don’t assume it’s hard [to apply]. We’ve done many loans as small as $3,000. If you’re that small business that is a sole proprietor, $3,000 dollars goes a long way,” explained Shon Myers, president and CEO of Farmers and Merchants Bank.

The latest SBA data says that in August, $820 million in PPP funding was distributed to businesses in Ohio’s 10th district.

Lily’s Bistro and 416 Diner are two of more than 7,300 businesses that have received funding.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the PPP loans,” said Guy Fragmin, owner of 416 Diner. “It allowed me to keep my guys working, it was a savior to the business.

Emily Mendenhall, co-owner of Lily’s Bistro and Blind Bobs said the PPP loan gave her the same life raft.

“It’s what allowed us to stay open for carry out and delivery, then reopen for socially distanced dining in June,” said Mendenhall.

She says she was able to give employees bonuses this week which is a positive sign for the future of her business.

Experts say no matter how small you think your business is, or how good you think you’re doing, applying for PPP funding is still important to do.

“This is money that may appear to be free right now, but this is money that our businesses over the years have given to the federal government. Now its there to assist them in their time of need. This is their money coming back to them,” said Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition

For more information from the Chamber of Commerce on the second round of PPP Funding, click here.