HICKSVILLE, NY (CBSNewYork) – Small businesses have a little over a week to apply for another round of loans from the Paycheque Protection Program to keep their employees paid during the pandemic.

Smaller businesses have priority this time around. But Carolyn Gusoff of CBS2 reported that many small business owners are unaware.

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A sprawling space in Hempstead would have been filled with children learning science, technology and math. Instead, it’s been empty for a year.

“When COVID-19[female[feminine touched, everything stopped. I’m the only one coming into the building most of the time… seeing it empty… breaks my heart to see this, ”said Doron Spleen, owner of Morrison Mentors.

The nonprofit business has obtained a federal PPP loan. Now they are applying for the second round.

“We still had to pay our mentors. We still had to pay a deposit on the location, ”said Spleen.

This time around, small businesses like Spleen’s, with fewer than 20 employees, will lead the PPP line. The Biden administration created an exclusive 14-day period. The deadline is March 9.

After that, large companies can also apply for loans until the end of the month.

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Borrowers may be eligible for a loan forgiveness. It’s a possible lifeline for Shaheen Restaurant in Hicksville. His restoration income has been wiped out and the owner has just been informed of the upcoming deadline.

“It’s like saying there’s a line, but where’s the line?” Said owner Zeshan Hamed. “There’s really no one coming up to say, ‘Hey, listen, apply yourself to this. “Hey listen, this is how you do it.” “

that’s why Long island small business leaders came together to spread the word, asking everyone to let a small business owner know there is $ 1 billion in aid up for grabs.

“The federal funding available is limited. So please apply… as soon as possible and immediately take advantage of this priority status, ”said Town of Oyster Bay Councilor Laura Maier.

“We want to make sure everyone is applying and not leaving money on the table,” said Eric Alexander of the Long Island Main Street Alliance.

“Our key statement today is: ‘Apply, apply, apply. “Don’t assume you don’t qualify,” said Lionel Chitty of the Nassau County Minority Affairs Office.

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People who have gone through the application process say it’s not as complicated as it was last time. But if you need help, contact an accountant, bank, or chamber of commerce.