SBA Coronavirus Loan Program Runs Out of Money; Gov Edwards Creates Economic Commission

On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) said that it has run out of money for businesses seeking to sign up for the Paycheck Protection Program.

“The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding,” the SBA’s website says. “Similarly, we are unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time.”

This is bad news for the millions of small businesses hoping to access federal funds in order to continue paying employees and avoid layoffs during the COVID-19 lockdown across the U.S. The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program was central to the coronavirus economic stimulus passed just three weeks ago in an attempt to keep businesses afloat. The program is geared towards helping smaller businesses with under 500 employees with loans that are forgivable if those businesses keep their employees on payroll throughout the pandemic shutdowns.

As of Thursday morning, more than 1,637,000 loan applications valued at over $339 billion had been approved, though no data has been released showing how much of that money has actually been dispersed. According to the Washington Post, anecdotal reports show that only a small portion has been released to businesses, with lenders and banks overwhelmed with applications. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has asked Congress to release $250 billion more for the program but attempts to approve that increase have failed so far.

Also on Thursday, Gov John Bel Edwards created the Resilient Lousiana Commission, which will focus on making businesses in industries across the state more resilient. The commission will make recommendations to provide ideas for business-related activities and commerce both during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the state prepares for reopening in the coming months.

“COVID-19 represents a historic challenge to our ability to respond medically and save lives, but it also represents a tremendous challenge for Louisiana’s economy and the prosperity of each one of our residents,” Gov. Edwards said. “For these reasons, we need a comprehensive game plan for creating a more resilient Louisiana. I’m proud of the men and women who have accepted the challenge to tackle these important issues, and to ensure that Louisiana becomes a leader for the future safety and success of our people.”

The commission’s task force structure will be dedicated to strengthening specific areas of Louisiana’s economy, including:

  • Energy and Manufacturing
  • Health Care, including improved delivery of medical care, health equity, and enhanced medical facilities
  • Tourism, including hotels, gaming, and hospitality
  • Rural Development
  • Education and Workforce, focused on providing training to displaced workers
  • Economic and Community Development, including helping communities become more resilient in the face of future health care threats

“Our commission’s task to build a more resilient Louisiana will take a deep dive into all aspects of our economy, how sectors have been impacted and how we can safely re-energize them for long-term success in an uncertain future,” commission Co-Chair Pierson said. “We have responded to many past disasters in Louisiana with a substantial degree of success. However, we all recognize that COVID-19 brings a unique and different kind of threat, and we will work as a team to create the very best practices for moving forward today and for building resiliency tomorrow.”

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans specializing in politics and social justice issues. In 2019, she was given the title of “Most Fearless” by The Bayou Brief. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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