Another $320 billion in small business loans became available through the Paycheck Protection Program earlier this week. That's likely not the end of it.
That's according to Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Bradley was speaking with Inc. editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul during the sixth National Small Business Town Hall on Friday. Inc. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting the free weekly live webinars to help business owners stay informed about the resources available during the coronavirus pandemic.
Registration is now open for the seventh National Small Business Town Hall on Friday, May 8, at 12 p.m. Eastern.
"I do think we'll have another bill," Bradley said, adding that the best-case scenario for any new legislation is likely Memorial Day. "They'll begin to tackle the issues associated with reopening the economy," he said. "There are going to be resources, support, regulatory and legal clarifications--that's why it's going to take so long to work out. But a bill will get done in the next five or six weeks."
Bradley added that some of the rules surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program loans might not be set in stone. Currently, the Treasury Department will only forgive payroll expenses for the eight weeks from when business owners receive their loan. Many business owners want to spread those funds over a longer time period. Additionally, owners must use at least 75 percent of the loan for payroll expenses to be eligible for the maximum amount of forgiveness.
"It's always possible that Congress could change its mind and change some of those rules going forward," Bradley said. Still, he added, to be safe, business owners should operate under the assumption that the rules won't change.
Bradley also spoke about the Main Street Lending Program, an alternative to the PPP for some small to midsize businesses expected to launch any day. The Fed on Thursday adjusted the eligibility requirements for the loans, lowering the minimum adjusted earnings from $250,000 to $83,000. Still, the minimum size of a Main Street loan is $500,000--and, unlike the PPP loans, the loans are not forgivable.
Because of those stipulations, Bradley doesn't expect demand for the $600 billion program to be as high as was for the PPP. Participation is optional for financial institutions, so if the program is a fit for you, he advises checking with your lender to see if they're taking applications.