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Chamber asks Romney, Curtis about pandemic relief resources

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, addresses the Salt Lake Chamber via Zoom on Wed., December 23, 2020. Image credit: screen grab, slchamber.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Salt Lake Chamber got a chance to pose their questions about the $900 billion federal relief bill agreed to by lawmakers this week to two members of Utah’s congressional delegation.

On Wednesday, the Chamber hosted a Zoom conference call which included Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Congressman John Curtis, R-Utah, and Utah banking executives. The call was described as being part of a presentation to the Chamber’s Roadmap to Recovery Coalition.

“We convened the Roadmap to Recovery Coalition to educate, inform, and advocate for policies that will help Utah businesses working through the pandemic,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

“The relief provided in this legislation is needed greatly, and the Chamber has called for many of the provisions contained in the new bill to save Utah businesses and jobs for the people they employ.”  

Chamber priorities for the relief package

One of the aspects of the as-yet-unsigned relief bill considered important to the Salt Lake Chamber is the addition of funds to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  

Lawmakers introduced the PPP in the first round of COVID-19 relief funding provided to Americans and American businesses.

According to a statement sent to KSL NewsRadio, Romney provided this outline of the proposed distribution of new stimulus funds:

  • $284.45 billion for Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans. 
  • $25 million for Minority Business Development Centers under the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to assist minority business enterprises with technical assistance, such as applying for PPP. 
  • $50 million to SBA for PPP auditing and fraud mitigation purposes. 
  • $15 billion for grants for shuttered live venues, theaters, museums, and zoos. 
  • $20 billion for the EIDL Advance program, of which $20 million is for the SBA Inspector General. 
  • $3.5 billion for continuing the Section 7(a) Debt Relief program. 
  • $2 billion to carry out SBA lending enhancements.

Other provisions in the bill

Romney also identified some specific provisions that go along with the added funding. As currently written, the new round of PPP would be available for small businesses with no more than 300 employees; they would need to “demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross revenues between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.”

The new proposal establishes a maximum loan size in relation to a business’s average monthly payroll cost. It also sets aside money to support business owners for whom this would be their first round of stimulus funding.

“I fought hard as part of a bipartisan group to ensure we provided emergency relief to the many Utahns we love and serve,” said Romney. “We still expect this legislation and our main funding provisions, despite the President’s recent comments, to be enacted and signed into law.”

If approved by President Donald Trump, the program provides $15 billion in grants for live venues forced to close down. These include theaters, museums and zoos which, according to a statement, “have experienced significant revenue losses.”

Salt Lake Chamber representatives say they are setting up a Rapid Response Team in order to help small businesses, especially sole proprietors, to apply for and receive these funds once the money becomes available.

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