Part of the nearly unprecedented $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package approved by Washington D.C. in late March was $350 billion earmarked as small business aid. Called the Payroll Protection Program, it would issue loans through private banks to small businesses across the country on a first-come, first-serve basis, with provisions to make sure the money lent went to making sure American workers will have jobs to come back to whenever business can at last start to return to normal.
Now in mid-April, over 1.3 million individual loans have been approved, accounting for over $296 billion of that money, and the program is expected to hit its funding ceiling by the end of Wednesday, April 15th. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pledged to add another $250 billion to the program, which may see it last as long as May, but Congress is currently in disagreement over where that money is most needed.
Approved applicants for PPP loans have already begin receiving their funds, with few delays in the process. The program limits any delays to ten days or less after approval, or the bank involved may face punitive measures.
“It’s a tremendous program to keep our business afloat,” said David Burman, CFO of one recipient, a brewer in New York which had to furlough over a quarter of its workers without pay. “It’s having the assets to hire and keep people on staff, especially as our cash flow has shifted and we are dealing with longer terms with accounts and vendors.”
Like many recipients, Burman’s brewery will use the loan to keep those furloughed workers on the payroll for at least eight weeks, paid and with benefits, so they don’t lose them to job-seeking in the interim. To most, the benefits are probably more valuable than the paychecks, especially while health-care concerns are at an all-time high.