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Senate boosts PPP by $320 billion with thousands of loans approved for state

Staff Report //April 22, 2020//

Senate boosts PPP by $320 billion with thousands of loans approved for state

Staff Report //April 22, 2020//

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After the first wave of Paycheck Protection Program funding ran dry by April 16, the U.S. Senate approved a $320 billion boost for the program and an additional $60 billion for small-business disaster loans Tuesday night.

If the House passes the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (.pdf), a $484 billion coronavirus relief package, and if President Donald Trump signs it, the bill will also provide an additional $75 billion for health care providers, $60 billion for community banks and credit unions accessible to underserved communities, and $25 billion for the expansion of COVID-19 testing, according to a news release.

About $11 billion of the funding for testing research, manufacturing and administration will go to states for allocation.

Community health centers and rural health providers will receive $825 million of the $25 billion allocated for testing if the bill becomes law.

In an S.C. Chamber of Commerce conference call before the bill had been passed, Sen. Lindsey Graham noted he was trying to funnel PPP funding to “main street level” businesses instead of to large franchises, according to the release. He said one of his primary goals in pushing for additional assistance was to encourage employees to remain on company payrolls instead of filing for unemployment.

Graham expects the country to enter mitigation, or the second phase of the president’s reopening plan, by the summer, according to the release.

“This essential funding will help thousands of South Carolinians keep their jobs and their paychecks, and ensure more small businesses can continue operating,” Sen. Tim Scott echoed in a separate release.

By April 16, over 1,661,367 Paycheck Protection Program loans had been processed nationwide, with 22,933 loans, or $3.81 billion, approved for S.C. businesses, according to the release. Nationwide, the construction sector has received the largest percentage of loan funding, at 13.12%, followed by professional and technical services at 12.65%, manufacturing at 11.96%, health care and social assistance at 11.65%, and hospitality at 8.91%.

The new loan funding will help thousands of construction firms to retain essential construction jobs amid rapidly declining demand for construction services, Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, said in a news release Tuesday. As one of the relatively few sectors of the economy still operating, construction firms still have signficant payrolls in need of protection.

An April 10 survey by the AGC found that nearly 40% of construction companies had laid off workers, while 41% had been directed to halt work on a current project.