Pappas asks SBA to provide zero-interest loans for hardest hit small businesses, nonprofits

March 19, 2020
In The News
MANCHESTER, N.H. —U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Wednesday announced actions aimed at helping businesses hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak obtain loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, introduced new legislation with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and a group of senators that would ensure that all small businesses with SBA loans would not have to make loan payments -- including principal, interest, and fees -- for the next six months.

Among the cosponsors is fellow New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Pappas signed on to a letter with 12 other members of the U.S. House – including 2nd District U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster -- seeking the zero-interest loans.

Pappas’ office noted that the emergency has “already caused unprecedented operating challenges, reduced consumer demand and outright closures.”

As part of a federal administrative disaster declaration last week, the SBA set interest rates at 3.75 percent for small businesses “without credit available elsewhere” and 2.75 percent for non-profit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.

Pappas, Kuster and the other House members are now calling on the SBA to offer zero-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits “that will face severe and prolonged impacts,” his office said.

“Additionally, we are encouraged that in his remarks on Wednesday, March 11, President Trump pledged to dramatically expand SBA’s small business loan authority by an additional $50 billion,” stated the letter. “We are optimistic that these measures would help give small businesses and non-profits short-term relief as they face supply chain disruption, slowed economic activity, and payroll challenges due to COVID-19.”

View the full letter here.

“New Hampshire's 130,000 small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the nonprofit community does amazing work throughout the Granite State,” Pappas said. “In recent days, business as usual has been obliterated for our small businesses.

“That is why it’s essential that SBA offers zero-interest loans to help them weather this unprecedented period and get back up on their feet as quickly as possible."

Shaheen, speaking about her new bill, said, “As our communities navigate this unprecedented public health crisis, it is paramount that we do everything we can to alleviate the financial burden impacting families, workers and small businesses,

“That’s why I’m joining with Senator Coons to introduce new legislation that would appropriate additional federal dollars to suspend payments on Small Business Administration loans for six months.

"Small businesses in New Hampshire and around the country are facing significant issues managing cash flow, payroll and other expenses, and we need to use every tool at our disposal to help them weather this storm. I’ll continue to explore every option available to provide economic security to Granite State businesses and their employees.”

Shaheen’s office said the bill would affect three SBA lending programs -- the 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program, affecting restaurants and hotels; the 504 Certified Development Company loan guarantee program, which provides financing for assets such as land, buildings and machinery; and the Microloan program, which provides loans of up to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofit child care centers, via nonprofit intermediary lenders.

Pappas, who is co-owner of the Puritan Backroom restaurant and Puritan Conference Center in Manchester, said, “As a small business owner myself, I understand the challenges businesses face in the best of times. We are now experiencing a level of hardship that has never been seen, and we must meet this moment with swift and meaningful action.

“I remain committed to advocating for more support and direct assistance for New Hampshire’s small businesses and nonprofit sector so that they can keep their lights on, pay their bills, and support their workers.”

“By providing zero-interest loans and more flexible terms on these working capital loans, we can help ensure businesses and nonprofits have the resources to keep their doors open through these uncertain times, without having to worry about burdensome interest payments in the future,” Pappas' office added.

Pappas’ letter follows his call Tuesday, along with the other three members of the state’s congressional delegation, for the SBA to issue an emergency declaration to ensure New Hampshire small businesses are eligible for the “full suite of emergency resources” available through the SBA.

Also Tuesday, Pappas and the other members of the New Hampshire delegation wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services calling for the department to “urgently provide guidance to health care providers in New Hampshire and across the country on the steps being taken to deliver personal protective equipment, ventilators and other essential supplies to hospitals as they prepare for an increase of coronavirus patients in the weeks to come."

Pappas, along with U.S. Reps. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Ted Lieu of California, “recently led over 100 lawmakers urging HHS to establish a Special Enrollment Period for patients to seek ACA Marketplace coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pappas’ office said. “This is particularly important for New Hampshire, which is one of the 38 states covered by the federal exchange."

Pappas and Kuster hosted a telephone town hall focused on coronavirus impacts for more than 10,000 Granite Staters last week with Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and Beth Daly, chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at NH-DHHS.