DRC Town Hall: Senator Cornyn, SBA Tout Economic Relief Programs for Small Businesses and Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

In response to the extraordinary economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government passed an enormous $2.2 trillion relief package known as the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act” in late March. U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Elsie Johnson, Deputy District Director for the Small Business Administration (SBA), joined the Dallas Regional Chamber for a virtual town hall on Monday, April 6 to highlight key provisions in the bill.

Much like the crisis itself, the CARES Act is unprecedented in its size and scope, providing sweeping relief in an effort to mitigate some of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.

Of foremost importance is providing individuals and employers with the resources they need to endure the crisis. A new initiative, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), aims to do just that.

The PPP is a $350 billion loan program designed to help small businesses sustain their payroll throughout closures or slowed business stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. The program provides cash flow assistance up to 250% of overhead costs to small businesses for eight weeks. If all employees are kept on payroll throughout the eight weeks and the loan funds are used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities, the loan will be fully forgiven. PPP applications are open as of April 3 and may be submitted to any certified SBA lender.

For further assistance, Johnson encouraged small businesses impacted by the crisis to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), an advance of up to $10,000 that does not require repayment. EIDL applications go directly to the SBA.

Small business owners may learn more about the PPP, EIDL, and other relief programs here.

Still, many businesses, both large and small, have already made the difficult decision to close their doors and lay off staff. For those workers, Senator Cornyn stressed that help is on the way.

The CARES Act appropriates direct payments to many Americans – up to $1,200 per person based on income. A family of four making up to $150,000, for example, could receive $3,400.

“Business is shut down, so people have no income but they still need to pay for basic needs,” said Senator Cornyn. “Hopefully, this will tie people over until they can apply for unemployment insurance.”

Senator Cornyn also noted that the package provides crucial support to struggling industries, such as hospital systems and airlines. The bill directs $100 billion to sustain hospital operations and secure necessary personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. The aviation industry – hit particularly hard by the crisis – will collectively receive $32 billion in payroll assistance grants.

The DRC hosted the virtual town hall in partnership with The Dallas Morning News,  ACT Asian Chamber of Texas, Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about the small business aid available to you, please contact your local financial institution. Several DRC members have also set up resource pages to help navigate this process.