MANKATO — The massive stimulus bill moving through Congress is a transformational aid package for small businesses, according to Patrick Baker, vice president and director of government & institutional affairs at Greater Mankato Growth.
“The challenge for a lot of businesses I’m hearing from is that programs have all been loan-based, so the question is how much debt are businesses willing to take on before coming out the other side, without knowing how long this will last.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by the U.S. Senate late Wednesday provides businesses forgivable loans, deferred loans and grants that don’t have to be repaid.
The House is expected to take up the bill Friday, and President Trump has indicated he will sign it.
“For businesses now, it’s a liquidity question,” Baker said. “Without money coming in they can’t pay their employees.”
GMG, at greatermankato.com, has a COVID-19 page with information for area businesses and posted a detailed update on many of the programs funded by the stimulus bill.
Some of the programs in the bill include:
Paycheck Protection Program
This will provide nearly $350 billion for eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during the emergency. If the employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers already laid off back onto payrolls.
The bill would provide $265 million for grants to SBA resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers, to offer counseling, training, and related assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19.
$10 million would be provided for the Minority Business Development Agency to provide these services through Minority Business Centers and Minority Chambers of Commerce.
Emergency EIDL Grants
The bill would expand eligibility for entities (including cooperatives, ESOPs under 500 employees, and sole proprietors and independent contractors), suffering economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
SBA is granted more flexibility to process and disperse small dollar loans, including waiving any personal guarantee on advances and loans below $200,000, the requirement that an applicant needs to have been in business for the 1-year period before the disaster, and the credit elsewhere requirement.
The bill would allow businesses that apply for an EIDL expedited access to capital through an emergency grant — an advance of $10,000 within three days to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. This emergency grant would not be required to be paid back.
Small business debt reliefThe bill would require SBA to pay all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loan products, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and Microloan programs, for six months to provide relief to small businesses negatively affected by COVID-19.
$17 billion would be provided to implement this section.
Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus.
Provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
Cash payments to individuals All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married) are eligible for a $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return.
Payroll tax delay
Allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees.
Large employer fundProvides $500 billion to the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other investments largely to large employers (500 plus) not otherwise covered in the bill.