The public health crisis is crushing America’s small business community. Economic disruption sparked by government restrictions and consumer precautions have left entrepreneurs grasping for a financial lifeline. Fortunately, the Trump administration and Congress have extended one.
As part of the CARES Act, the federal government is providing small businesses with forgivable loans to keep employees on the payroll and operations afloat. Congress initially allocated $349 billion for the program, but lawmakers are signaling even more is on the way. The relief has been coined the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and is helping the economy prepare for the post-coronavirus recovery.
As a small business entrepreneur, I can attest firsthand to the value of the PPP. My partners and I own and operate Arrowhead Building Supply—a business that provides exterior building materials for residential and commercial construction projects. We service three states—Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas—through six locations and employ nearly 130 people.
The coronavirus outbreak has hit us hard—primarily through the uncertainty its mass panic has produced. Financial timidness among consumers has impacted nearly every sector of the American economy; construction is no exception. Demand for products like siding, roofing and bricks has taken a sharp decline as consumers choose to cling to their income. So we were first in line to take advantage of federal relief.
My experience applying for the PPP was exceptionally smooth. However, there have unquestionably been hiccups during the program’s rollout. Anything of this size would be expected to have some, but the administration has worked hard to address the issues as quickly as possible.
My business applied for a forgivable loan immediately following the program’s launch—and was notified the next business day that we were approved for funding. The news was met with a wave of relief that moved throughout the company. The future of the business, as well as the livelihoods of our employees and contractors, was in jeopardy. And now with the relief, certainty can return and we may continue to operate and support our staff.
The ease and speed of the process is a testament to the PPP’s architects; supplying billions of dollars to hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country is nothing short of a herculean task.
Although the language of any legislation can be difficult to navigate, guidance released by the Treasury Department and materials produced in tandem by organizations like the Job Creators Network simplified the rules so any small business could feel comfortable applying. And while the federal government is coordinating the program, allowing applications to be processed and funds distributed at the local level streamlines the process further. After all, local banks know how best to benefit local businesses.
Arrowhead Building Supply is far from the only business to benefit from the PPP. Just days after the program launched, hundreds of thousands of businesses had already applied for the relief and many more will do so in the coming weeks. A single small business saved can financially buoy an entire staff and their families. The economic ripple effects from there are difficult to fathom.
Just a short month ago, February jobs data revealed the unemployment rate had dropped to a near-record low and hundreds of thousands of jobs were created. It was a continuation of a historic economic boom that characterized the previous three years. As the owner of a construction-related business, I know my industry helped to build that boom. And with relief from the Paycheck Protection Program, we can help rebuild it when the crisis subsides.
Rick Pogue is the owner of Arrowhead Building Supply—an exterior building materials business that services Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. He is also a member of the Job Creators Network.