Since January, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been leading an unprecedented, government-wide effort that has slowed the spread of COVID-19 and saved American lives. However, shutting down the economy has had a human cost. Many Georgians are unsure if they will be able to keep their jobs, run their businesses, and provide for their families after the coronavirus is contained.
President Trump understands this, which is why he recently launched the Economic Recovery Task Force, of which I’m honored and humbled to be a member. We are working together to find ways we can start reopening our economy and put people back to work, while still protecting public health.
Until we can start this transition, however, we have to help America’s small businesses, which employ half of our workforce, get through this shutdown.
President Trump recently signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bipartisan bill that provided critical resources to protect Americans’ health and economic security.
It provided direct payments and tax relief for millions of Americans. It boosted resources for state and local governments, healthcare providers, and government agencies. It protected many businesses from collapse.
The most impactful provision of the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which initially provided $349 billion in forgivable SBA loans to small businesses. This program has bipartisan support, and was designed to get relief into the hands of small businesses as quickly as possible.
Right now, this is the most critical step the federal government is taking to help keep as many Americans employed as possible.
The COVID-19 crisis created a liquidity crisis for businesses across the country. Many small businesses have been forced to consider laying off employees and closing their doors completely. We cannot let that happen.
Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy. Over 1.6 million Georgians, about 43 percent of the state’s private workforce, are currently employed by small businesses.
Since it launched, the PPP has been a critical lifeline for small businesses in need. Businesses on the brink of insolvency are staying afloat. Many workers who were laid off have been rehired.
In Georgia, PPP has already provided immediate liquidity to nearly 50,000 employers and $9.5 billion in loans have been distributed across the state. Thanks to this successful program, these small businesses can continue paying their employees through this crisis.
Some of the biggest heroes in our country right now are the small community banks which are administering PPP loans to local businesses. Though many community banks were originally unable to handle SBA loans, they have quickly stepped up to get this relief money out quickly. Because of them, thousands of jobs have been saved.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, I’ve heard directly from business owners, banks, and everyday Georgians. This program is helping those who need it most. Since the program launched, 87% of the loans distributed nationally have been under $350,000. That means the overwhelming majority of recipients are the smallest of businesses across all sectors of the economy.
Because of the need, the $349 billion was fully allocated to small businesses by April 16th. Thankfully, President Trump and congressional Republicans acted as quickly as we could to provide an additional $310 billion in loans. On top of that, the bill we passed will provide additional resources for healthcare providers and expand our testing capability.
As our country starts coming up with ways we can start to reopen our economy, the Paycheck Protection Program is providing a critical lifeline for our country’s most important businesses. Until we can safely reopen, we must do everything we can to strengthen and support this critical program.
Read more in the AJC.