Is it fair that in New York, the state hardest hit by coronavirus, only 66% of small businesses have been able to access the federal Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to keep afloat establishments whose doors were ordered closed?
The answer is hell no. Not when 76% of small businesses in Arkansas, which never even faced a mandatory shelter-in-place order, accessed the loans. In Mississippi, 96% of small businesses received PPP loans.
New York received 325,688 loans totaling $38 billion, which may sound like a lot. But we closed earlier and stayed closed longer than Texas, which reopened too early, but still saw 81.5% of its small businesses approved for loans, worth $41 billion.
There’s still time, and money, for federal help to flow to the 33% of New York state’s small businesses that got bupkis so far. Congress agreed to extend the loan application deadline to Aug. 8. More than $132 billion in funding is still available.
And the program’s original guidelines, which required 75% of loan money be spent on payroll costs, have been relaxed to just 60%, a boon for New York businesses, where insurance and rent comprise huge expenses. Businesses now have six months instead of just eight weeks to spend their loan money, too.
Hard-hit enterprises desperate for cash to keep their heads above water but overwhelmed by the application process need more proactive guidance from Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, whose bleeding budgets simply cannot withstand allowing small businesses to founder forever.
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