Small Business Owners Decry Flaws In Paycheck Protection Program Pushed By Senator Collins That Deny Access To Mom-And-Pop Shops While Big Corporations Get Millions

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88% of Maine Small Businesses Have NOT Received Assistance

Business Owner Says “The frustrating thing to watch, as this Paycheck Protection Program has been rolled out, is that it’s suggested as helping small businesses, but it’s not really directed at small businesses.”

Portland, MAINE — Yesterday, in a forum hosted by the Maine Small Business Coalition, small business owners from across the state came together to discuss their experiences with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The owners described their frustration that elements of the program pushed by Maine Senator Susan Collins make the program inaccessible to those who are truly in need of assistance, while corporate chains are able to exploit loopholes in the bill, and have already received millions in PPP funds. They also expressed concern that Senator Collins has refused to make changes to the program in which the big banks have “prioritized the applications of their wealthiest clients before turning to other loan seekers.” 

“You have to wonder if Senator Collins understands what’s really at stake here. Owner-operated businesses and those with one or two employees are the backbone of Maine’s economy, but she championed a policy that leaves them high and dry.” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “The PPP fails to deliver on Susan Collins’ promise that it would help small businesses in Maine. It’s obvious she’s looking out for corporate interests, not Maine small business owners.” 

Just how difficult is it for Maine small businesses to take advantage of the full benefits of the PPP? Coverage of the event tells the story:

Portland Press Herald: “Owners of Maine small businesses cite shortfalls in coronavirus aid program” Some small businesses may be left out of the program altogether.
“Dani Nisbet, the sole proprietor of Belissimo hair salon and a home and apartment staging company in South Portland, was encouraged in initial conversations with her bank. But two days ago, she was told that because she is registered as an S corporation, meaning she reports her business income on her individual tax return, she is ineligible for assistance
If we can’t get PPP and we can’t get unemployment, you are going to see the landscape of Main Streets around here change very very quickly,” Nisbet said. “This is pretty scary.”

Bangor Daily News: “Many small businesses say coronavirus loans won’t get them to rehire”Some small businesses that obtained a highly-coveted government loan say they won’t be able to use it to bring all their laid-off workers back, even though that is what the program was designed to do.
“The Paycheck Protection Program promises a business owner loan forgiveness if they retain or rehire all the workers they had in late February. But owners say the equation isn’t so simple, in part because of current economic conditions and partly due to the terms of the loans.”
“As a result, the lending may not reduce unemployment as much as the Trump administration and Congress hope…
“You’re turning the business into a pass through for the federal government,” said Joe Walsh, who owns Clean Green Maine, a cleaning service in Portland, Maine, with 35 employees. “You’re doing very little to actually help the business.”

Maine Beacon: “Maine small business owners denounce loopholes benefiting large firms in relief bills”“Despite the stated intent of helping small businesses, loopholes in the CARES Act allowed corporate hotel and food chains to tap into and drain the $369 billion initially allocated to the fund in a matter of weeks. Those loopholes have not been amended in the newest relief bill, meaning corporate chains will still be able to access funds intended for small businesses.”

WGME: “Small businesses in Maine ask for changes to federal loan program” “Local owners on the call say another concern is the rules surrounding the PPP.
“Earlier this month, CBS 13 shared stories from business owners about how the PPP didn’t offer as much money as anticipated, and placed restrictions on businesses to re-hire all of their staff members within eight weeks, or the loan wouldn’t be forgiven.
“The timing that’s laid out in the PPP doesn’t suit certain hospitality businesses like many of ours here,” Volk said. “To say that we’re going to back to 100 percent operations in 8 weeks is laughable at this point.”# # #

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The 16 Counties Coalition is a year-long grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of families and working Mainers and encouraging Senator Susan Collins to vote in favor of the people she was elected to represent and defend. The campaign will mobilize members through small- and large-scale events, through digital action, and paid television, radio, and digital ads.

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