Forgivable loans are a financial lifeline | Newspaper

The pandemic has hit small businesses in West Virginia hard, hitting restaurants and cafes like The Black Dog Coffee Company in Shenandoah Junction. Concerned about continuing to operate in a changing economic landscape, owners Jennifer and Brian Bircher have received a financial lifeline from the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

“The Payroll Protection Program (PPP), covering our salary costs, has allowed us to use the income from our daily sales to pay local suppliers who are also struggling during all of this,” said Jennifer Bircher.

This financial cushion also gave the Birchers time to install a walk-in window and start offering online orders and payments.

“Thanks to PPP and the backbone of our business model, we have been able to stay open and pay our employees who are our most valuable asset,” she said.

The P3 was the result of a coordinated, bipartisan effort by Congress and this administration to respond quickly to struggling small businesses in West Virginia and across the country. And it has become one of the largest federal disaster response efforts in history – more than 4.9 million small businesses have received forgivable loans, totaling over half a trillion dollars. aid dollars.

In West Virginia, the PPP injected nearly $ 1.8 billion into more than 17,000 bank accounts at small businesses like The Black Dog Coffee Company.

Importantly, the Trump administration and Congress have gone to great lengths to ensure that these forgivable loans were available to businesses most in need, especially those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people who have been disproportionately hit. by the coronavirus pandemic, including rural West Virginia.

With a focus on speed and fairness, the SBA increased the number of financial institutions authorized to make loans from 1,800 to 5,500 lenders, including not only community banks and hundreds of credit unions. , but also lenders specializing in social and economic connection. disadvantaged enterprises with capital.

More than 300 community development financial institutions, 122 minority deposit institutions, 53 agricultural credit institutions and non-bank lenders such as fintechs have been mobilized as part of this unprecedented public-private partnership.

This extraordinary effort paid off. Almost 70% of PPP loans went to companies with less than 10 employees, a significant allocation given that an average small minority-owned company has eight employees.

Tens of millions of jobs have been saved by the program, many of which would otherwise have been lost. PPP is accomplishing its mission of quickly stabilizing small businesses across our country by helping them keep their doors open and their employees on the payroll.

After two rounds of emergency funding distributed through PPP, it is clear that the program is succeeding in its vital role of helping our economy to recover; last month we saw the biggest employment increase ever measured in a single month.

Small businesses are large businesses in West Virginia, a state of 113,779 small businesses that employ nearly half of the state’s private workforce.

The SBA’s work to help small business recovery is not over. The massive coronavirus relief program was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the CARES Act, which further provided emergency assistance to small businesses by allowing the SBA to pay six months of principal, d interest and all associated fees that current borrowers, as well as new borrowers, owe on the most popular SBA loans, 7 (a), 504 and microloans.

Small businesses in West Virginia have made a significant contribution to America’s thriving economy just a few months ago – and it will be the same resilient entrepreneurs who will lead the way in helping our country reopen in full. security and restore economic growth.

Shelley Moore Capito is a United States Senator from West Virginia.

Jovita Carranza is the administrator of the US Small Business Administration.

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