In October, U.S. Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12th District) visited Linde Corporation in Pittston with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) administrator Jovita Carranza to gauge the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that had been distributed in the spring.
Fred listened to the business owners, learned what they liked about the program and what might have been done better. He stayed in contact with SBA officials as lawmakers in Washington hammered out the details of a second round of COVID stimulus to convey their concerns in an effort to help more people when the new package was rolled out.
“Our businesses do a great job and employ a lot of people in our communities, and we need to support our job creators,” Keller said in his opening remarks, adding, “I worked very hard to get the secretary to understand the importance of the tax deductibility of the PPP. That has become part of the legislation.”
On Jan. 13, Fred was the keynote speaker at a Legislative Update sponsored by the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce. Virtual attendees included many Chamber members with businesses small enough to qualify for new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and other resources.
While admitting that the second stimulus package is not a perfect piece of legislation, Cong. Keller is satisfied with the new round of PPP loans and broader terms of loan forgiveness geared to help smaller businesses than the first round.
The biggest change is that the next round of loans are for businesses with 300 or fewer employees, rather than 500, that can demonstrate a decrease in revenue of more than 25 percent. Secondly, he explained, “Our small community banks and credit unions are able to open their second round PPP first. They did that because they wanted to give small businesses the opportunity to get the second round of PPP first.”
In addition to the PPP loans, Fred described in broader terms additional resources targeted to families, farmers, educators, healthcare providers, theaters, food processors, and the transportation sector, including school bus companies. There will also be new investments in infrastructure, including broadband and internet, and incentives for trades education. The latter, he said, will help to ensure that those who want to move into the workforce directly from high school can do so, and that there are more options for adults who are making career changes.
The loan portal opened on Jan. 15 to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for first and second draw applications. The program opens to all participating PPP lenders on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
“I don’t want anybody who is considering needing that help to think of this as a hand out. You have done everything you can to stay in business,” Fred stated. “This is something that we need to do to support those who have supported their communities.”
Chamber president Gina Suydam thanked him for his remarks, adding “People are proud, but this is not a time to let that pride turn into failure. This is a time to take advantage of what is available to help your community.”
Fred suggested that business owners log on to www.sba.gov for a complete list of coronavirus relief options. His district director, Ann Kaufman, added that anyone interested in applying for a first or second PPP should contact their lending institution directly to discuss eligibility and what forms are necessary. Additional questions can be answered by the SBA at 800-827-5722 or by Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce will host two webinars in the coming week to provide more details on the stimulus package. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, SBA representative Rob Goza will speak about the reopening of the PPP loan program at 9 am. On Thursday, Jan. 21, CPA Kevin Hallock will discuss the rules for the Employee Retention Tax Credit at 9 am. Registration can be completed by logging on to www.wyccc.com.