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UPDATE: $1.5 billion for Maine small businesses approved through Paycheck Protection Program

In 8 days since the Paycheck Protection Program went live, 8,400 small businesses in Maine have been approved for forgivable loans.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Hope is on the horizon for thousands of Maine small businesses affected by closures and mandates from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created by the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, which was co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins and three other senators to offer loans to small businesses to cover payroll, rent, and utilities. 

Collins announced Saturday 8,400 Maine small businesses have been approved for more than $1.5 billion in loans. The loans will be forgiven if employers keep their workers on the payroll.

"Maine banks and credit unions are working around the clock to assist small businesses and certain nonprofits with their funding needs," Collins said in a statement. "I will continue to work closely with these financial institutions, the SBA, and the Treasury Department to ensure this approved funding is disbursed as soon as possible.”

The PPP loans make sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals eligible to apply.

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Lloyd LaFountain, the superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions, says 4,099 of the loan applications sent to the Small Business Administration (SBA) are associated with state-chartered banks and credit unions. LaFountain surveyed ten local financial institutes and estimated the SBA approvals make-up $668 million. His survey also found that dealing with the U.S. Treasury Department and the SBA has been difficult.

"The rollout by the Treasury and SBA, has been messy and unclean with constantly changing guidance," LaFountain expressed about the frustration financial institutions in Maine have been experiencing. "The SBA regional office in Augusta has been helpful and quickly responsive to questions they proposed."

LaFountain tells NEWS CENTER Maine the approval is the first step, but small businesses are still waiting to receive the funds.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27.

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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