daniel nordberg

Less than three months ago, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, establishing a new $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program. The mission: to keep people on payroll, keep businesses in business, and help the economy bounce back as quickly as possible.

In less than two weeks, the SBA approved more than 1.6 million PPP loans, exhausting the first round of funds appropriated by Congress, and requiring the appropriation of additional money. To date, the SBA has approved more than half a trillion dollars in PPP loans to over 4.6 million small business and saved millions of jobs.

In the days since the birth of the PPP, the SBA - in collaboration with the Administration, Congress, and the private sector - has worked diligently to make the program more accessible and practical for small businesses. We extended the period of time businesses can use loans from eight weeks to 24 weeks, a move that provides more flexibility for businesses to qualify for loan forgiveness. We modified the rules, so employers are required to spend only 60 percent of the loan on payroll costs, freeing up more funds to be used for debt obligations, including interest on a mortgage, rent payments, or utility payments. The rehiring window was extended from June 30 to December 31, and the timeframe small businesses have to apply for forgiveness was extended as well. Businesses across the country have said these changes provide much-needed peace of mind and a lifeline that will empower them to continue serving their communities.

The Paycheck Protection Program has accomplished its mission, and the numbers back it up. May's job report showed unexpected gains in America's economy, especially in sectors like hospitality, agriculture, construction, and leisure that heavily relied on CARES Act loans. The PPP also played a crucial role in supporting rural communities, which in turn has saved thousands of main street businesses and hometown economies.

The last three months have been challenging for business owners across our nation, but the PPP has saved the American Dream of entrepreneurship. It has offered a lifeline to small businesses, helped them pay their employees, and enabled them to keep their lights on. I am proud of the lenders, credit unions, Community Financial Depository Institutions (CDFIs) and rural community banks that partnered with the SBA to disperse more than 18 times the amount of loans in three months than the SBA provided small businesses in the entirety of 2019. Together, we've delivered vital assistance to our small business community and built a foundation for many more years of economic success and job growth.

Small businesses are still able to apply for a PPP loan and can do so through June 30. To learn more about the PPP and resources available for small businesses, visit www.sba.gov/ppp<http://www.sba.gov/ppp>.

(Dan Nordberg serves as SBA's National Director for Rural Affairs and Region 8 Administrator based in Denver. He oversees the agency's programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming)