Nearly 300 small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 crisis joined Congressman Tom Suozzi in a conference call Wednesday to learn more about the resources available to them.
Suozzi spent much of his time discussing the Paycheck Protection Program that had such a rocky launch on April 9 with many major banks and lending institutions unprepared to accept applications.
“It’s a major effort to prop up small businesses and keep those payroll checks coming to the people that need them most,” Suozzi said. “With $359 billion available, is to get two and a half times your monthly payroll in a loan from the Small Business Administration, which will be forgivable if you keep your employees on. And for anyone who was fired or furloughed people already, you can get the loan, and bring people back on.”
Suozzi added that it was a “gargantuan task” to get the program up and running in such a short period of time and that the SBA had already accepted 200,000 applications for the loans.
“The magnitude of this program is enormous,” Suozzi said. “The financial community is dedicated to do this, to stand up this very complex program at this trying time.”
The program offers low-interest, no-fee loans of up to $10,000 for small businesses to help with cash flow to retain employees and maintain payroll. Suozzi also discussed the merits of the Economic Injury Disaster Loans which offers a low-interest fixed-rate loan up to $2 million.
Suozzi added that a comprehensive manual on the resources that are available can be found on his website here.
A day earlier, Suozzi joined several of his Congressional colleagues on a video conference call hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
“All of the Queens delegation wants to be able to assist you in accessing the dollars that were put into the PPP, the payroll protection program,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “There’s also a $10,000 grant program you can apply for immediately.”
The Flushing small business community has been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
“I want to thank our members and our business community, who have been incredible allies during this time, especially here in Queens. And this is not just in helping us to get the word out about loans and grants that we have created, but also helping with equipment and supplies for our local hospitals,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “Please utilize me as a resource in continuing to get this information to our communities.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney pledged to help small businesses connect with the resources they need to stay afloat during the crisis.
“My office and I will work with anybody that has problems getting a loan,” Maloney said. “If you are in my district, call me, and I will work with you, and with the bank, to get things rolling.”
The Queens Chamber of Commerce is the oldest and largest business association in Queens, representing more than 1,150 businesses and more than 100,000 borough-based employees.
“Queens is so fortunate to have strong leadership in Congress who understands that small businesses are the backbone of our community,” QCC President and CEO Tom Grech said. “We will continue to work with them, and our elected officials at all levels of government, to give hope to small businesses at this difficult time.”