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Photo: President Joe Biden | Credit: Whitehouse.gov

Biden Administration Increases Pandemic Lending to Small Businesses

President Joe Biden announced changes to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses.


President Joe Biden announced changes Monday to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color, according to the Associated Press.

“Biden says a lot of these mom and pop businesses ‘got muscled out of the way’ by larger businesses seeking federal money in the early days of the pandemic. He said changes taking effect Wednesday will provide long overdue aid to these smaller enterprises that he says are being ‘crushed’ by the pandemic-driven economic downturn.”

“America’s small businesses are hurting, hurting badly and they need help now,” Biden said.

 

Top 5 PPP reforms for main street small businesses

Small businesses account for 44 percent of U.S. GDP, create two-thirds of net new jobs, and employ nearly half of America’s workers. Now, millions of main street small businesses – especially Black- and Brown-owned small businesses – are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

Photo: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris | Credit: Whitehouse.gov
Photo: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris | Credit: Whitehouse.gov

The Biden-Harris administration has made delivering equitable relief to hard-hit small businesses a top priority. The latest round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding opened just one month ago and it represents a marked improvement on the prior round of the Program last year. Compared to the same point in the Program last year:

  • The share of funding going to small businesses with fewer than ten employees is up nearly 60 percent
  • The share of funding going to small businesses in rural areas is up nearly 30 percent
  • The share of funding distributed through Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions is up more than 40 percent

The Biden-Harris administration is announcing several reforms to build on this success by further targeting the PPP to the smallest businesses and those that have been left behind in previous relief efforts. While these efforts are no substitute for passage of the American Rescue Plan, they will extend much-needed resources to help small businesses survive, reopen, and rebuild.

Specifically, the Biden-Harris administration will:

 

1. Prioritize small businesses with fewer than 20 employees

Institute a 14-day period, starting Wednesday, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the Program. 98 percent of small businesses have fewer than 20 employees.

They are Main Street businesses that anchor our neighborhoods and help families build wealth. And while the Biden-Harris administration has directed significantly more relief to these smallest businesses in this round of PPP than in the prior round, these businesses often struggle more than larger businesses to collect the necessary paperwork and secure relief from a lender.

“The 14-day exclusive application period will allow lenders to focus on serving these smallest businesses.”

The 14-day exclusive application period will allow lenders to focus on serving these smallest businesses. The Biden-Harris administration will also make a sustained effort to work with lenders and small business owners to ensure small businesses take maximum advantage of this two-week window.

 

2. Offer additional relief for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed

Help sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals receive more financial support. These types of businesses, which include home repair contractors, beauticians, and small independent retailers, make up a significant majority of all businesses. Of these businesses, those without employees are 70 percent owned by women and people of color. Yet many are structurally excluded from the PPP or were approved for as little as $1 because of how PPP loans are calculated.

To address this problem, the Biden-Harris administration will revise the loan calculation formula for these applicants so that it offers more relief, and establish a $1 billion set aside for businesses in this category without employees located in low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas.

 

3. Eliminate exclusionary restrictions for SBO’s with prior non-fraud felony convictions

Consistent with a bipartisan bill, eliminate an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions from obtaining relief through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Currently, a business is ineligible for PPP if it is at least 20 percent owned by an individual who has either:

  • an arrest or conviction for a felony related to financial assistance fraud within the previous five years; or
  • any other felony within the previous year.

To expand access to PPP, the Biden-Harris administration will adopt bipartisan reforms included in the PPP Second Chance Act, which would eliminate the second restriction (the one-year look-back) unless the applicant or owner is incarcerated at the time of the application.

 

4. Eliminate exclusionary restrictions for SBO’s with delinquent federal student loans

Eliminate an exclusionary restriction that prevents small business owners who are delinquent on their federal student loans from obtaining relief through the Paycheck Protection Program. Currently, the PPP is not available to any business with at least 20 percent ownership by an individual who is currently delinquent or has defaulted within the last seven years on a federal debt, including a student loan.

Millions of Americans are delinquent on student loans, including a disproportionate number of Black borrowers. Working with the Departments of the Treasury and Education, the SBA will remove the student loan delinquency restriction to broaden access to the PPP.

 

5. Ensure access for all lawful U.S. residents

Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to apply for relief. The PPP statute is clear that all lawful U.S. residents may access the program, but a lack of guidance from the SBA has created inconsistency in access for ITIN holders like Green Card holders or those here on a visa. The SBA will address this unfair inconsistency by issuing clear guidance in the coming days that otherwise eligible applicants cannot be denied access to the PPP because they use ITINs to pay their taxes.

 

In addition to these five changes, the Biden-Harris administration has taken steps to ensure equitable distribution of relief that values each and every taxpayer dollar. View the full Whitehouse Fact Sheet here.

 

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Photo: President Joe Biden | Credit: Whitehouse.gov
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