Before the government resumed taking applications for the $660 billion aid program for small businesses hit by the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak on Monday, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, hosted a conference call Friday with Oregon small business owners, including 1188 Brewing Company Owner Shannon Adair, to push for cash payments for small businesses to fill the gaps left by the Paycheck Protection Program.
Wyden in March introduced a small business rescue package that provided cash payments through tax refunds, as well as a wage credit to help keep workers on payroll. The wage credit was included in the coronavirus relief package passed by the Senate on March 25, and Wyden is pushing for inclusion of cash payments in the next coronavirus relief package.
“Congress has to do more to promote the agenda of the smallest of the small businesses in the next coronavirus package,” Wyden said. “Small businesses simply need an influx of modest amounts of cash.”
Wyden said businesses with $1 million or less in gross receipts with 50 or fewer employees would receive a check equal to the business’ gross receipts reported in a previous year, up to $75,000.
Wyden said the PPP — which provides loans that can be forgiven under certain conditions — is simply not enough assistance for small business owners who, when the economy opens back up, will be operating at partial capacity.
Wyden said small businesses in retail and the restaurant business will have expenses that the PPP does not cover.
On the call, Adair said the PPP, which she received, does not cover a lot of the expenses that she is on the hook for, such as expired food in her walk-in cooler, insurance and advertisers she committed to.
She said the PPP is beneficial to keep the building open so that the business can continue on with projects while the restaurant is closed and pay utilities.
“We can pay our bills, and then we have this big chunk of money that we may or may not be able to use in an eight-week period,” Adair said. “We don’t have work for the same number of staff we laid off (required by the PPP), and many are making more on unemployment. I can bring back the ones that have struggled getting unemployment and have them work on projects, but that will be a small part of that 75% (required to be spent on payroll for loan forgiveness).
“Once the eight-week period is over, we may be open by that point, but our sales will not be the same, and I will not need the same number of employees. Assuming I brought them all back in an eight-week period, I would just have to lay some of them off again,” she said. “The PPP is just not flexible enough to provide what we are going to need over the long haul.”