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Coons seeks to prioritize small businesses with staggered PPP window

Katie Tabeling

WASHINGTON D.C. — Right after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that makes sweeping changes to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Senator Chris Coons says he wants to add more funding to it.

Sen. Chris Coons

Sen. Chris Coons

This time, Coons said he wanted the final round of funding to prioritize the smallest businesses first with a staggered application window. In theory, this would put businesses with 10 employees or less in the first week, companies with 50 employees or less in the second week and so on.

“The smallest businesses who have seen the greatest loss in revenue are the ones that I wanted to make sure were able to get another round of PPP,” he said.

The senator spent the afternoon of June 3 on a webinar with Delaware business leaders as they discussed their successes and struggles with the program. With the state reopening, many on the call were concerned about the year ahead.

The Senate’s sweeping changes to PPP included extending the time when the loan can be spent to 24 weeks; the terms of unforgiveness from two to five years; giving businesses more time to rehire; and more. It also expanded the 25% cap on non-payroll expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest and utilities to 40% of the total loan.

Leroy Tice, a Wilmington attorney, said his long-standing relationship with TD Bank helped get his personal injury firm the SBA money it needed. But many in his own circle were not as successful, he said.  Even then, his firm’s future for the next year is uncertain with no new clients in the past few weeks.

“To be frank, I do expect we will struggle for a year, year and a half because cases weren’t in the pipeline. SBA loan forgiveness options were right for me in the sense that I could maintain my employment,” Tice said.

Autumn Arch Brewery owner Jimmy Vennard said that the PPP money helped since the business has taken out a seven-year loan. But when his brewery was cut off from serving in the tap room, 80% of incoming revenue dried up.

“It was a recognition of how fragile our little businesses are,” he said. “We shifted our model for canning and take out, but if we’re doing this a year from now, it’s not going to be good for the longevity of businesses.”

Parthiban Jayaraman, owner of the Greene Turtle in Dover and seven Dunkin’ Donuts in New Castle County, said while the SBA funding was a lifesaver but that reopening faster and customer’s comfort were going to be key moving forward.

“On my darkest day, we had to let 140 people go and now 60% are back,” Jayaraman said. “We have to set up restaurants in a way that people feel safe. The slow ramping up of sales and how much debt we have is going to determine whether we will be able to survive in the long run or not.”

With elective surgeries put off, Dr. Fady Gerges said the business at Green Clinics Laboratory dropped to 5% and layoffs happened as well but the SBA funding saved him from paying roughly thousands in overhead.

“Business is still suffering, but we’ve picked up some from employers that require staff to have a negative test,” Gerges said.

— Katie Tabeling


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