The Paycheck Protection Program is a lifeline for small businesses

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

As the coronavirus pandemic keeps American workers at home, millions of small businesses are suffering, forced to make the agonizing choice of whether to cut staff or face closure. Thankfully, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the “Phase 3” federal aid package, is here to provide relief by supplying small and mid-sized businesses with the cash they need to make payroll, cover leases, and get through the outbreak — all with no strings attached.

The PPP loan provides eight weeks of cash-flow assistance via 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses that maintain their payroll. So long as the business does so, the portion of the loan used for payroll costs and other debt-based obligations (e.g., interest on mortgage obligations, rent, or utilities) will be forgiven entirely.

Applying for the PPP loan is easy. Simply visit any institution approved to participate; this may be your own local bank or one of the thousands of others already participating in the SBA’s programs nationwide. Your local Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, or Minority Business Center can also provide free assistance.

After finding your lender, you’ll be able to borrow 250 percent of your average monthly payroll expenses, up to $10 million. This amount is intended to cover eight weeks of payroll and any additional debt obligation expenses. To help bring back workers who may have already been laid off, this timeframe is retroactive and can be applied to any eight-week period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Seasonal businesses’ expenses will be measured using a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019 or March 1, 2019.

At the end of the selected timeframe, the PPP loan — so long as it’s gone to covering payroll costs and the aforementioned existing interest payments — will be forgiven in full. If you use the PPP loan for other expenses, you’ll need to repay that portion starting six months to one year from the date you took out the loan.

So, who qualifies? You’re eligible if you’re a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer or if your business is in an industry with an employee-based size standard through SBA higher than 500 employees. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self-employed individuals all qualify.

Furthermore, tribal businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits are eligible. Nonprofits are subject to SBA’s affiliation standards. Independently owned franchises with under 500 employees, which are approved by SBA, also qualify. In addition, if you’re a restaurant, hotel, or business that falls within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 72, “Accommodation and Food Services,” and each of your locations has 500 or fewer employees, you qualify.

Once this crisis passes, I know just how critical it will be to make sure businesses have the labor needed to jump-start the economy and workers have the security of a job to return to. Our intent is to provide the resources needed to keep these vital relationships intact. While the coronavirus pandemic will challenge America’s resolve, the Paycheck Protection Program will play an integral role in getting our nation back on its feet and running anew.

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