It looked like the White House and Democrats in Congress were closing in on a deal Tuesday to restock the popular program to help small business.

That’s good news, because the nation cannot afford to waste any time to replenish the Paycheck Protecting Program. The more than $300 billion program ran out of money last week, a stark reminder of just how serious the economic impact from the COVID-19 virus outbreak is.

Lawmakers must move quickly to solidify a deal and get the program back up and running.

That impact from the virus isn’t going to evaporate any time soon, either.

The new relief package is expected to earmark $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program along with $50 billion for the Small Businesses Administration’s disaster relief fund. Money will also be allocated for hospitals and testing.

The money is crucial for small business across the nation, but it is especially critical for merchants in rural areas of the state, such as Grant County. While not a permanent solution, the money will keep people on payrolls and, hopefully, cut down on the number of workers in the unemployment lines.

The Paycheck Protection Program is — for obvious reason — hugely popular. Within 10 days of the start of the program more than 4,600 lenders made more than a million loans to the tune of $247.5 billion.

At any other time in our history such a huge outlay of debt would seem to be foolhardy. Now, the nation clearly faces an unprecedented set of circumstances. Such a huge outlay of money will also clearly create new challenges down the road in terms of who pays and when. Those are good questions, questions that deserve ready answers from lawmakers.

Yet, for right now, the focus must be on the small businesses of this nation, our state and our county. Small businesses are, in a real way, the heart of the American success story. Their existence underpins our democracy, and without them the nation will face myriad new, and yet, unforeseen problems.

The corner shop in a small rural town is more than just a place to buy goods but is part of our collective culture. Each deserves the chance to survive, and that is what the Paycheck Protection Program is all about. Is the program a cure-all? Of course not. It is a stopgap measure, but it is one that can provide an important part of our economy a decent interval while the COVID-19 virus outbreak continues.

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