PORTLAND, Maine — Small businesses in Maine and across the country can start applying for another round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans this week.
Maine businesses received more than $2.2 billion in funding through the first round of funding last year.
The newly approved PPP loans have tighter restrictions to ensure more small businesses are targeted after critics found billions of dollars went to large corporations nationwide.
"Every little bit helps," Portland business owner Damian Sansonetti said.
Sansonetti and his wife own the restaurant Chaval. He said the restaurant received some money through the first round of funding last year and is hopeful they can receive more in the coming months.
The last round of PPP loans was largely unregulated and criticized for favoring big business.
Because of that, there are some new rules this time:
- The loans are capped at $2 million per business
- Applicants must have fewer than 300 employees
- Businesses must prove at least a 25% drop in sales from the same period in 2019.
- Unlike last time, publicly traded companies are not eligible.
- $12 billion has been set aside specifically for minority owned businesses.
Mark Delisle, the state director for Maine Small Business Development Centers, said those changes should allow loans to be more accessible to Maine businesses, especially in the struggling hospitality and restaurant industry.
"That's one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, so they can actually apply for 3.5 times their payroll as opposed to their 2.5 times their monthly payroll," Delisle told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Loans are first available only through small community lenders or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) while other financial institutions anxiously prepare for the rollout.
Maine Community Bank CEO Jeanne Hulit said she and her team have dozens of customers getting their paperwork ready to apply.
Hulit, who formerly served as the acting administrator of the Small Business Administration under Pres. Obama in 2013, said MCB helped 680 Maine businesses receive more than $75 million in PPP loans last year.
"We did that over a period of two weeks," she said. "It was a big push, because we wanted to make sure our customers got access to the fund before it ran out and we're standing by to do the same."
She urged any small business owner planning to apply to contact their bank and get necessary documents together as soon as possible.
According to the Small Business Administration, businesses can apply for first-time relief loans through a community lender starting Jan. 11. Those hoping to apply for a second time can do so beginning as early as Jan. 13.