New Federal COVID-19 Relief Bill To Help Hoosier Small Businesses

Dec 23, 2020

A business in South Bend temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

After months of asking for a new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Congress passed a bill to finally offer some small businesses financial help. The $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill gives hope to small business owners trying to survive through the pandemic.

In an October survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), three-fourths of respondents said they would apply or consider applying for a second PPP loan.

In Indiana, 1 in 5 small business owners said they would have to close over the next six months without additional aid. That was more than three months ago.

Barbara Quandt is the state director for the Indiana chapter of the NFIB. She said while there’s still work to be done to fully understand everything in the bill, she’s just glad something was passed.

“It was certainly touch and go there for quite a while, and it looked like we weren't going to get anything,” said Quandt. “And so this is good news. While it comes late, it's never not too late to save some businesses here and help them get through this, this period of time until the vaccine kicks in, or whatever it takes us beyond where we are right now.”

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Quandt said while it is disappointing that COVID-19 business liability protections were removed from the federal bill, efforts are being made to have legislation passed on the state level.

The COVID-19 economic relief package makes some changes to the PPP lending program including who is targeted to get access to the additional federal aid.

The first round of PPP was criticized for leaving out many business owners from underrepresented groups. 

Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer, said the second round of PPP loans will include money designated to help reach businesses in underserved communities.

"What they’ve done is set aside an amount of money for those small community banks, credit unions, and CDFI-type entities," said Bradley. "Which as we learned going through this summer, are well positioned to help those minority-led small businesses."

He said other changes in the new program include a reduced limit on loans and new eligibility requirements for getting a second PPP loan.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created an online resource to help owners learn about any policy changes from the recent legislation that could affect their businesses.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.