Congresswoman briefs Princeton businesses on CARES Act funding

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) joined Princeton businesses in a virtual business forum to break down the details of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act provides emergency assistance to families and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.

The Princeton Merchants Association organized the forum on April 2.

β€œWe are delighted to have an expert with us to give us the information on what is happening in Washington, D.C., including aspects of the CARES Act,” said James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Coleman briefed businesses generally on what is covered under the CARES Act, and then focused the conversation on the federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

β€œThis CARES Act is a $2 trillion endeavor. There is a generous package, although I do not think adequate in any sense for the small business community,” Coleman said. There is more than $349 billion specifically in the bill to support the small business community and specifically deals with businesses that are 500 employees or fewer.”

She added that there is additional money for loans up to $10,000 that small businesses can access more quickly through the SBA fund.

β€œA lot of money that is going into the SBA fund, that comes through your local lenders is money or loans that can be forgiven under certain circumstances,” Coleman said. β€œFor instance, if you maintain the employment list that you have, not necessarily the same employees, but the amount of employees those loans can possibly be forgiven entirely.”

The discussion highlighted the paycheck protection program (PPP) referenced by Coleman in regards to retaining employees.

Small businesses would go through banking institutions that participate in the program and not the SBA.

During the hour-long discussion, several small business owners raised questions and challenges pertaining to employee rehiring and being eligible for the PPP loan program.

The application process for this specific loan program kicked off during the week of April 3.

For more information about the various small business loan programs, visit www.sba.gov.