Alaska delegation helps advance funding for small business assistance | Local News

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A bill co-sponsored by U.S. senators from Alaska that extends emergency small business loan relief through May 31 was enacted by President Biden.

The law is effectively pushing back the deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (P3), which has helped more than 12,000 Alaskan businesses since 2020.

The program, which is now in its second round, was scheduled to expire on March 31. The PPP was set up as financial assistance for small businesses in difficulty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alaska businesses that have received the loans include airlines, car dealerships, grocery stores, gyms, hospitals, and doctor’s offices. The average loan amount for American small businesses is $ 59,000.

As of March 28, 2021, the program has generated 8,465 loans totaling $ 631 million to businesses in Alaska, according to the US Small Business Administration in Alaska. In 2020, Alaskan small businesses qualified for 12,087 loans totaling $ 1.3 billion, the Alaska SBA reported.

“I talk to a lot of small businesses,” said Clark Bihag, senior regional manager for the SBA’s Alaska district office. “They tell me that without [PPP] they couldn’t have kept their doors open.

PPP loans can be converted into grants – with debt forgiveness – if the borrower complies with restrictions on the use of money for basic expenses which include paying the payroll, paying rent or rent. mortgage and utility coverage.

Borrowers must devote at least 60 percent of the loan to payroll to qualify for loan forgiveness. They can request a loan forgiveness, after the money is spent, up to the loan amount. The borrower can request the forgiveness of his loan at any time before the maturity date of the loan.

In Congress, more than a dozen senators have co-sponsored legislation to expand the loan program – called the “P3 Extension Act of 2021” – including Republican Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The extension was passed overwhelmingly in the US House, in a show of bipartisan support. Alaska Representative Don Young, who was not present for the vote, described the P3 as essential for small businesses and offered advice on its website to homeowners seeking help.

“Congressman Young has been a strong supporter of the Paycheck Protection Program since its inception under the CARES Act,” said Zack Brown, Young’s press secretary. “Small businesses in Alaska have been hit hard by this pandemic, and the congressman believes the P3 program should continue to be funded and made available to our entrepreneurs and their staff.”

PPPs began at the very start of the pandemic to help businesses cope with declining consumer spending as businesses slowed down and people avoided crowds and gatherings.

In 2021, more than 3.5 million PPP loans were issued across the country, for a total of $ 212 billion.

The extension Biden signed on Tuesday not only gives small businesses more time to request relief, but it also gives the SBA an additional month to process requests – until June 30.

More than 100 organizations have supported the extension of the PPP. These include the United States Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The program’s formula for calculating the loan amount has changed to help more sole proprietors and the self-employed get the help they need.

The Small Business Administration – with offices in Fairbanks and Anchorage – works with community development finance institutions, called CDFIs, to provide assistance to small businesses applying for P3s.

Most of the banks in Alaska are involved in providing PPP assistance. “As you can see from the numbers, there are a lot of companies taking advantage of the program,” Bihag said.

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.

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