WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, who serves as ranking member of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee and sits on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, announced sweeping measures to aid small businesses as part of the $2 trillion response package to address the outbreak of COVID-19. The small business package includes more than $377 billion in grants, debt relief, and forgivable, guaranteed loans to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, nonprofits, and self-employed Americans nationwide.

“Small businesses are the heart of our economy. With small businesses facing disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, this third stimulus package clearly needed to focus on helping people in industries like food service, retail, and hospitality,” said Sen. Coons. “I’ve been hearing from small business owners up and down the state of Delaware, and I’m proud to help deliver much-needed relief to them during this time of great uncertainty.”

The $377 billion small business package in the third COVID-19 stimulus bill includes:

  • Six months of debt relief on Small Business Administration loans: Senators Coons and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, introduced the $17 billion Small Business Debt Relief Act last week to ensure that every small business with a loan backed by the SBA would be relieved of their loan payments—including principal, interest, and fees—for the next six months. The industry sectors most represented in SBA loan programs are many of those bearing the brunt of this crisis: independent restaurants, hotels, retailers, childcare centers, fitness centers, and other service-oriented businesses. With this legislation, the federal government will temporarily make the loan payments on behalf of each one of the 854 small businesses in Delaware with a federally-backed loan, ensuring their loan balances decline on schedule at no cost to the businesses. 
  • Expanded access to loans that incentivize worker retention: Within the new relief plan, all small businesses, nonprofits, and even self-employed Americans will have immediate access to ‘Paycheck Protection Program’ (PPP) loans that are no-fee and 100% federally-guaranteed. PPP loans will be issued under temporarily expedited processing standards and may be used to cover operational costs such as wages, rent, or utilities and offer the potential for substantial forgiveness to firms that retain or rehire their workers.
  • $10 billion in federal grants for small business: Senators Coons and Cardin also fought to incorporate funding for $10 billion in federal grants, which would not require repayment from qualifying small businesses and nonprofits. This program will serve the most severely-impacted small businesses and nonprofits.

Another component of this third COVID-19 response package is the rescue of Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers. Last week, Sen. Coons and his colleagues introduced the MEP Crisis Response Act of 2020 to help local MEP centers, which provide critical resources for small and medium manufacturers, stay open during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Maintaining their operations is especially relevant today in the context of medical supplies and pharmaceutical products, when American manufacturers face wildly fluctuating demand and insufficiently robust supply chains. The bill temporarily waives a cost-sharing requirement and provides an emergency $50 million in support for the MEP program.