Federal And State Programs Aim To Prop Up Local Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 5, 2020

(From left to right, top to bottom): Jim Porter, Bill Malone, Max Doilney, Andy Beerman, Jonathan Weidenhamer and Ben Hart discuss economic-relief options for small businesses

Representatives from local and state economic organizations joined Park City Mayor Andy Beerman and Councilmember Max Doilney Friday to discuss emergency funding options for Park City-area businesses and nonprofits. 

Jim Porter from World Trade Center Utah and the state’s economic recovery task force explained the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which is part of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act. The PPP started Friday, April 3. Businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees can apply for the program to receive a loan of up to two-and-a-half times monthly average payroll.

Importantly, though, Porter says if you’ve fired employees, you need to rehire them by June 30 to qualify for loan forgiveness.

“Seventy-five percent of what will be forgiven will need to be payroll expenses,” Porter said. “So, don’t wait to rehire your employees until the last minute, because you’ll find that that reduces your forgiveness amount.”

Ben Hart from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, or GOED, spoke about another program the state initiated this week. Hart says the small business bridge loan program offers businesses with 50 or fewer employees loans ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The loan is interest free over five years, with the first payment not due for 12 months. The first round of funding closed Friday, after receiving nearly 2,800 applications. The next round begins April 13.

“Our money is not going to be huge dollars — it’s not going to be the SBA numbers, and it’s not meant to be,” Hart said. “It’s really meant to be that bridge, hence the name of the program, between now and when you can get some of those other dollars back in the bank, or, best-case scenario, the economy starts moving again.”

Park City and Summit County’s own economic recovery task force has been working on a plan that mirrors the state’s, which estimates businesses might begin operating normally again come September at the earliest. Park City Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Malone says that timeline might put businesses in a state of limbo during the summer.

But in the meantime, Malone suggests taking some actions now to come out stronger on the other end, such as collaborating with other businesses, soliciting online reviews and negotiating with suppliers.

“Enhancing your digital presence to do business in as many ways as possible,” Malone said. “Mastering your finances during this timeframe. These are all things that we don’t have to wait for anyone to tell business that they can do them.”

For more information about resources for businesses, visit coronavirus.utah.gov.