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Biden boosts pandemic lending to smallest businesses
AP Feb 22, 2021 5 days ago
Marine One, with President Joe Biden aboard, approaches the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Washington. Biden is returning to Washington after visiting Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing site near Kalamazoo, Mich. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden speaks after a tour of a Pfizer manufacturing site in Portage, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
President Joe Biden departs after attending Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Joe Biden speaks to member of the media after exiting Air Force One, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden walks by freezers used to hold the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as he tours a Pfizer manufacturing site with Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO, in Portage, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced changes Monday to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color.
Biden says a lot of these mom and pop businesses “got muscled out of the way” by larger businesses seeking federal money in the early days of the pandemic. He said changes taking effect Wednesday will provide long overdue aid to these smaller enterprises that he says are being “crushed” by the pandemic-driven economic downturn.
"America’s small businesses are hurting, hurting badly and they need help now,” Biden said.
Under the pandemic-era Paycheck Protection Program, the administration is establishing a two-week window, starting Wednesday, in which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees — the overwhelming majority of small businesses — can apply for the forgivable loans.
Biden's team is also carving out $1 billion to direct toward sole proprietors, such as home contractors and beauticians, the majority of which are owned by women and people of color.
Other efforts will remove a prohibition on lending to a company with at least 20% ownership by a person arrested or convicted for a nonfraud felony in the prior year, as well as allowing those behind on their federal student loans to seek relief through the program. The administration is also clarifying that noncitizen legal residents can apply to the program.
Data from the Paycheck Protection Program released Dec. 1 and analyzed by The Associated Press show that many minority owners desperate for a relief loan didn’t receive one until the PPP’s last few weeks while many more white business owners were able to get loans earlier in the program.
The program, which began April 3 and ended Aug. 8 and handed out 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion, helped many businesses stay afloat when government measures to control the coronavirus forced many to shut down or operate at a diminished capacity.
The latest PPP, which began Jan. 11 and runs through the end of March, has already paid out $133.5 billion in loans — about half of the $284 billion allocated by Congress — with an average loan under $74,000.