Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón and Senator Marco Rubio highlight the importance of PPP assistance to small business in Puerto Rico

by May 5, 2020Federal Government, Puerto Rico0 comments

Federal aid to small businesses in Puerto Rico increased 700% in the second round of funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which brings the attention of Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP, R) and Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business, on the importance and priority of this program for the federal government.    

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a new program, established by the CARES Act that helps small business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic between February 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020. The program provides small businesses with funds up to $10 million to pay two months of payroll costs, including benefits, withholdings, employer contributions, and the salary levels of its employees. The funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rents, and utilities.

The CARES Act assigned $349 billion towards the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In the first round, SBA through local banks approved around 2,856 loans totaling $658,573,638 approved dollars.

After the success of this program and when funds got exhausted, Congress approved the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act of 2020 allocating an additional $310 billion for the PPP. During the second round of the SBA’s lending program, it was reported that until May 1, 2020, they had approved 19,961 loans for businesses on the Island under the PPP program, which is equivalent to $987,677,005.

There is still a remaining balance of $175 billion to finance this assistance and resident commissioner González-Colón urges all local small businesses who have not requested it to do so.

González-Colón has been in constant communication with the Puerto Rico Bankers Association (PRBA) and the presidents of the local banks, as well as with SBA to ensure that this help gets to the people who needed the assistance. The resident commissioner also encouraged their constituents to continue their applications to benefit from this economic help.

“This is the most direct aid that reaches our small businesses and therefore maintains the payroll of thousands of employees in Puerto Rico. A large percentage of our island’s economic engine is based on small and medium-sized merchants, many of whom continue to receive aid and recover after Hurricanes Irma and María and the recent earthquakes. We have advocated from Congress, with the Treasury Department and SBA to achieve the disbursement of more funds and in this second round we see that the numbers of loans approved are over six-time higher than in the first round,” said González-Colón.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, Senator Rubio said. “It is clear the programming is working for small businesses and their employees in Puerto Rico. As we move forward and slowly begin to reopen, we must continue to prioritize our small businesses and protect the dignity that comes from work.” 

González-Colón has hosted and participated in various webinars with different sectors such as medical, contractors, CPAs, tourism, and nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico to guide them and clarify doubts about these loans and other assistance available amidst of the COVID 19 emergency.

Other programs that the SBA is offering and that are managed directly with them are the EIDL and the EIDL-Advance. In Economic Disaster Damage Loans (EIDL), businesses can obtain low-interest loans of up to $ 2 million to alleviate the impact of the loss of income caused by the emergency.

The EIDL-Advance offers emergency grants of up to $ 10,000 to cover operating costs, employee wages, insurance premiums, payroll costs, and emergency licenses.

For the first time, these programs are extended to farmers affected by coronavirus.

This morning, the resident commissioner had a video call with the acting director of SBA in Puerto Rico, María de Los Ángeles de Jesús, with whom she discussed the number of loans that have been disbursed in the two rounds of emissions and the areas for improvement.