Blaine’s Bulletin: Small Business Recovery Continues

Small businesses are the perfect example of the notion that with hard work, resourcefulness and an entrepreneurial spirit, anything is possible in America. They have always played a unique role in our local economy and have been a major source of jobs in our communities. Just like all of us, this year has been extremely difficult for small businesses. But these entrepreneurs have gotten creative and figured out ways to keep their doors open in the face of adversity. From restaurant owners driving meals to homes themselves to fulfill orders, to creating a home office in the kitchen while simultaneously teaching their children school, small business owners have gone to exceptional lengths to stay afloat and keep their employees in a position to support their families. It has been incredible to witness their fighting spirit and that is why this year especially, I am proud to be named a Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business. 

While it has unfortunately not been possible to save every small business from shuttering, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been able to keep millions of businesses afloat. Since the PPP began accepting applications in April, more than 4.9 million loans that supported over 51 million American jobs have been approved. That’s 51 million Americans who would otherwise be forced onto unemployment or unable to make ends meet. While the overwhelming majority of feedback we’ve heard from businesses who have received PPP loans has been positive, no government program is perfect. In the case of PPP, the biggest need for improvement is in the loan forgiveness process.  

Recently, I wrote a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration urging them to simplify the loan forgiveness process for the smaller businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program loans up to $150,000, which represents 87 percent of all PPP recipients. These loans played a critical role in helping them stay afloat in the precarious economic climate, but the forgiveness process has proved burdensome and expensive in some cases. Some estimates indicate the current forgiveness reporting requirements will cost $2,000-$4,000 for each business, requiring 20 -100 hours to complete – time and money that should be spent on business sustainability and growth. It is so important that we streamline the forgiveness process so that these businesses can make up for lost revenue and get back to serving their communities. 

The PPP has been able to help millions of small businesses continue operations, but many of them are still suffering from months of losses earlier this year. There is still $138 billion in unused funds that has already been allocated to the PPP, but just this week Senate Democrats unanimously blocked a bill that would give small businesses access to this funding. I am confident we are on that path to full recovery, but in the meantime please continue supporting your local restaurants, coffee shops, florists, barbers and hardware stores. While I am proud to have been named a Guardian of Small Business, it is important to remember that small businesses have been the real guardians of our jobs, economic success, and the economic freedom throughout our great history.