Update: The House passed the stimulus bill on Thursday afternoon. It now heads to President Trump’s desk.
Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christine Ross said the $484 billion stimulus package Congress is considering would provide “critical” support for small businesses that are suffering due to restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The Senate approved the legislation on Tuesday. The House is expected to approve the legislation later this afternoon. President Donald Trump has said he supports the legislation. It provides $320 billion for small businesses, including $60 billion for small financial institutions. It also provides $18 billion for testing and $2.8 billion for the NIH and the CDC.
“We are grateful that congressional leaders and the administration were able to reach a deal to increase funding for SBA’s (Small Business Administration) PPP (Paycheck Protection Program)—this funding is critical for supporting small businesses during this time,” Ross told MarylandReporter.com in an email on Wednesday. “While we have learned that some Maryland businesses have received access to PPP funds from the first round, there are still many who were either left in the pipeline or have been unable to access the program.”
Ross elaborated on that point.
“These additional funds are necessary to support those Maryland businesses who have not yet been able to access support. In addition, we are urging Congress to turn its attention to necessary technical corrections to programs created in the CARES Act to ensure that all employers —especially small business owners — have access to financial support.”
Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty said the funding is “very significant, especially for businesses with 25 or few employers.” McClarty added: “Besides restaurants and retailers, that business group seems to be one that we hear from most frequently.”
McClarty was asked what business owners in the county are saying about the legislation.
“The biggest thing being mentioned is the need for funding and the desire to receive confirmation from both the SBA if applying from the EIDL [Economic Injury Disaster Loan] or their lender if applying for PPP. Most of the frustrations besides availability appear to be that businesses complete these loan packages and don’t receive feedback that packages are received and an anticipated wait time.
“There is a lot of anxiety right now and many feel left in limbo after they have submitted their applications. Sole proprietors are extremely frustrated. The UI process is difficult to figure out and comprehend and the fed loans i.e. PPP made them wait an entire week behind those with W-2’s. Moreover, the state programs left them out as well.”
Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon, echoed similar sentiments.
“While there are a number of local businesses that have benefited from either EIDL or PPP loans, those who’ve applied and not been funded is a far greater number. For some it was a matter of the cue, for others it was waiting for their lender to be able to accept loan applications, and for many more it was simply the issue of insufficient funding levels to support the demand.”
Weldon expressed tempered optimism about the stimulus.
“I think the general sense is relief that some movement is occurring, although that optimism is offset by the predictable level of partisanship that seems to weigh these things down in Congress. Another valid concern would be including legislative protections in whatever might pass to prevent using these “small business” rescue packages from being used to support large national chain restaurants like we saw in the last round.”
Today’s stimulus package is the third installment of money Congress has allocated in the past month to help states suffering from COVID-19. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that a fourth stimulus package is being considered and that it would address infrastructure concerns.
The Hogan administration is offering $175 million in loans and grants to help Maryland’s small businesses.
There are 15,737 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, while 680 people in Maryland have died from the virus.