Golden Proposes Fixes for PPP as Small Businesses from Seven Second District Counties Share their Struggles with the Program
LEWISTON — In the midst of his months-long push to help Maine small businesses access the federal relief programs available to them, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) laid out the structural challenges keeping the Paycheck Protection Program from living up to its promise to many Maine small business owners. In a letter to leaders in the House and Senate, Golden cited what he’s heard from small businesses across seven different counties in the Second District.
“It has become clear to me, and to many small businesses across Maine’s Second District, that the PPP, although well-intentioned, has several flaws that are proving to be harmful to small businesses across the country,” wrote Golden. “There are certainly many cases where the PPP has indeed provided substantial benefit to small businesses and workers. However, some of the rules of the program do not reflect the long-term realities many businesses and workers continue to face in Maine: extended state-ordered closures, anemic consumer spending, and almost no money coming in from out-of-state tourism as we enter Maine’s summer months.”
In his letter, Golden relays what he’s heard from Maine small businesses and suggests changes to the PPP “to follow through on our commitment to small businesses and their workers during this crisis.” To rectify the problems raised by these small businesses, Golden writes that Congress should:
Clarify how businesses will qualify for loan forgiveness, whether partial forgiveness is an option, and who will control that process.
“As it stands now, circumstances around forgiveness and payback [for PPP loans] are murky at best. I request Congress work with the SBA to clarify the process and eligibility surrounding the loan.” - Atlantic Brewing Company, Bar Harbor
“... how are we supposed to have our entire staff back to work by July 1st, when we are only going to be able to seat at half capacity? It would be realistic to have half the staff back, if we can only be half open.” - Darby’s Restaurant, Belfast
“I am a CPA and we need guidance on the loan forgiveness calculations, fast. The eight week period on the PPP loans has started and I cannot advise my clients on the process on calculating FTE, what are covered costs, how does the June 30, 2020 date work to meet the FTE test, etc.” - CPA, Hampden
“We now find ourselves in the very difficult position of trying to use the funds we procured through the PPP as intended to help our employees and the business, but are unable to.... We cannot see business being truly open until September under the current guidelines, so for us to have to have our staff fully back by June 30th is not possible under the restrictions in place.” - The Towne Motel, Skowhegan
Consider extending the terms of loan repayment for those who fail to meet the full standard for forgiveness to a longer period than 24 months.
“The 8 week period is not enough time to safely return our workers. Do you think it would be possible to advocate for a 12 week period for the return of workers for the loan to be forgiven? The monthly payment on the loan begins on the 7th month and without some of it being forgiven we will not be able to make the monthly payments. They are at $11,663.00 a month. We will be in a horrible situation at that point.” - Work First, Farmington
“We don’t need a short-term loan to keep staff and pay a few bills. We are not asking for a handout like the trillions that have gone to Big Business. We need-and I would argue deserve- a long-term zero interest ‘bridge’ loan to see us through the uncertainties of doing business in the new reality of the next 18-24 months until we have enough testing, vaccines, and treatments to bring back the faith of the American consumer.” - River View Resort, Bethel
Allow businesses to use a greater portion of their PPP loan for non-payroll expenses.
“There are too many strings. The PPP loan will help us keep the 18 employees on the payroll and call back the 6 we laid off. The biggest problem is cash, we can't pay our big suppliers so we can't generate sales. With sales down how do we stay open if I can't buy materials to sell? We are operating at a loss to keep as many people employed. As an essential business we also help people and businesses. Our credit cards are maxed. Customers are slow to pay, which is the same as us… What happens when the program ends? I doubt the economic impact will end.” - Sunrise Glass, Brewer
“I am also dealing with lack of PPE (N95, surgical facemask and gloves) which will cause additional temporary closure as the supplies are depleted. On top of this I have been forced to have construction done to provide plexiglass protection to the front reception area and additional expense to purchase equipment to minimize water aerosols that are common in dental procedures. These expenses will not be reimbursed under the PPP but will affect my ability to keep employees on payroll after an eight-week window under the current rules.” - Maine Dental Clinic, Lewiston
“I was wondering if you could all advocate for all the cost of gearing up for the pandemic be added to the allowable expenditures of the loan forgiveness list. We have had to order thermometers, gloves, masks and a lot of sanitizer, plexiglass, etc. We are keeping all the receipts. When we start slowly opening in June, we want to be sure to protect the individuals with intellectual disabilities so gearing up with PPE is a must.” - Work First, Farmington
Over the last two months, Congressman Golden has prioritized outreach to small businesses to help them access federal relief resources and determine their needs as they confronted the coronavirus crisis. He has held eight listening sessions by phone with small businesses and other Mainers, with over 11,000 people participating. In addition, Golden established a small business response team on his staff, which has assisted over 500 Maine small businesses to date, and released a small business resource guide to assist business owners in his district.
Golden has also pushed for additional relief for small businesses, as well as changes to federal relief programs. Last month, he voted for an increase in funding for the PPP and EIDL programs, after calling for additional resources for both. He has repeatedly pushed Congressional leaders to prioritize the needs of American small businesses as Congress addresses the coronavirus crisis.
Read more of Congressman Golden’s letter — and the testimonials from Maine small businesses — here.