As a small business owner in West Virginia, I have prepared for many different scenarios, but the coronavirus has left me feeling overwhelmed - not only for the future of my business but for my employees as well. This invisible enemy is forcing me to cope with a reality where our seven offices are closed indefinitely. Thankfully, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes $349 billion in loans to small businesses as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.
Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza explains, "Our goal is to position lenders as the single-point-of-contact for small businesses – the application, loan processing, and disbursement of funds will all be administered at the community level. Speed is the operative word; with lenders using their own systems and processes to make these loans.”
Small businesses, like mine, desperately need this money to weather the coronavirus so we can emerge stronger tomorrow. By offering loans with a simple application form, the Trump administration is allowing us to keep our rent and our almost 60 employees paid during this time of economic disruption.
The seriousness of the coronavirus is forcing me to worry about the future of my business. I have worked hard to build up an emergency fund, but I still wasn't prepared for this deadly disease.
Small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs in America, but many of these job creators may lay off employees because of this crisis. This situation is especially tragic after President Trump’s tax cuts had generated massive growth for small businesses.
Everyone I talk to expresses doubts and fears about what is happening. Axios found 96% of small business owners "say they have already been impacted by the outbreak." Unemployment numbers reflect this sad reality, as 22 million people have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus outbreak.
Thankfully, the Paycheck Protection Program provides businesses with needed cash and, more importantly, helps us retain our workers. It is impossible to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus fully, but this program will keep many businesses open that otherwise would have folded.
The loans are from the federal government, and approved banks manage the loans. Under the program, businesses can borrow up to 250 percent of their payroll or $10 million, whichever number is less.
Loans granted as part of the program can be forgiven if “the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses,” according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Targeted loan forgiveness for payroll expenses is a concrete example of President Trump fighting for American workers.
This program builds on past actions the administration has taken, like extending the April tax deadline to July and helping owners fill gaps in their supply chains, to aid small businesses. President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin know how to run a business, and they continue making decisions that help companies survive.
The Paycheck Protection Program and other initiatives are preparing the economy for a resurgence when the pandemic passes. Alfredo Ortiz, the CEO of Job Creators Network, argues, "There's more work to do to ensure small businesses get the loans they need, but the groundwork is being laid for a massive Main Street recovery when this is over."
America’s economic future depends on keeping small businesses afloat during this disaster. No one predicted this, but thankfully President Trump is taking strong actions to combat the coronavirus and to help businesses survive a period of economic turbulence. Allocating $349 billion in forgivable loans to entrepreneurs proves that the president is dedicated to protecting American workers.
Dr. Chris Stansbury, a former Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, is co-founder of West Virginia Eye Consultants based in Charleston, West Virginia. He is also a member of the Job Creators Network, a small business advocacy group.