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Small business relief now and for the future

The speed at which funds were utilized for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans is an alarming indication of how this pandemic has impacted the business community. While listening to a SBA webinar, chamber staff learned that the federal government processed 14 years worth of loan applications in 14 days.

Nationally, many people were frustrated to hear reports of how larger businesses were able to accumulate multiple PPP loans due to loopholes in the legislation. In the Adirondacks, there are mixed reviews from businesses and organizations on the status of their applications. Some PPP applications were successful, while others were unable to have their applications reviewed and approved before funding ran out. Many folks who applied for an EIDL have not heard any updates since submitting. A recent survey conducted by the Adirondack North Country Association found that 62% of respondents have not heard from the program they applied for.

Fortunately, the federal government finished passing a fourth COVID-19 relief measure this past Thursday. The newest legislation added an additional $320 billion to PPP, with $60 billion set aside for smaller lending facilities, including minority depository institutions, certified development companies and credit unions. Also, an additional $60 billion was allocated to EIDL, with $50 billion for loans and $10 billion for cash advances.

The PPP loan application process will resume today (Monday, April 27) at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. PPP lenders are being advised to “process loan applications previously received” and “to disburse funds expeditiously.” Businesses or organizations with loans already submitted to a lender should remain in contact with their financial institution to ensure their application is received and ready for review. Since it is understood that the demand for the PPP loans is high, those that do not have a PPP application already submitted are encouraged to contact their financial institution as soon as possible to start the process.

The EIDL application portal was removed from the SBA website once appropriations lapsed. Interested businesses and organizations who have not already submitted an application should check back regularly to see when the portal will activate again.

There is a team of economic development partners in the region at the ready to help navigate these programs and the negative impacts of the pandemic. Businesses and organizations do not need to feel alone during this crisis. While businesses are trying to figure out how to deal with the crisis in front of them, this same team of economic development partners are working on a support system moving forward. As we look toward the future, the business community will need even more guidance and support. Policies in the “new normal” will create unforeseen challenges and opportunities influenced by necessary public health measures. These currently unknown policies will have unintended costs and potentially new business operations that can limit cash flow. As the community has pulled together to face the crisis of the moment, there is an opportunity to continue this cooperative spirit by ensuring we all are prepared for what comes next. This community has the freedom to start planning for the “new normal” now.

Patrick Murphy is director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

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