What an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program could mean for local businesses

A $660 billion program to help small businesses during the pandemic will likely be extended. 

The U.S. House voted to keep the Paycheck Protection Program going. Applications were cut off late Tuesday night. If President Trump signs the extension, businesses will once again have access to the money. 

Some small businesses in Spokane have used the loans, which can be forgivable if businesses use the money for payroll and keep their workers employed. It’s become a life raft during COVID-19 and now businesses could have even longer to take advantage of it. 

Since the program started in March, more than 4.8 million businesses have tapped into the $520 billion dollars worth of loans in the PPP. That’s an average of $108,000 per business. 

President Trump still needs to sign the extension bill, which would give mom and pop shops until August 8 to apply for the $130 billion left in the pot. 

The President signed a separate bill earlier this month giving businesses more time and flexibility to use the money. 

They originally had eight weeks to spend the cash to qualify for loan forgiveness. The measure extended that time to 24 weeks.

It also lowered how much of the money had to be used for payroll from 75% to 60%.

The program proved to be a lifeline to Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane, which was able to reopen at limited capacity in April with employees running curbside pickup orders.

The PPP did have a bit of a rocky start. Main Street businesses were outraged to learn that some publicly traded companies like Shake Shack applied for loans, receiving millions of dollars. The Treasury Department later asked those companies to return the money.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are expected to work on a second coronavirus relief package after the July 4th recess.

READ: House passes small business loan Paycheck Protection Program extension by unanimous consent