By all measures, Nevada is one of the hardest-hit states in the current pandemic and related economic downturn. Many of the state's small businesses are closing or hanging on by a thread.
There's still more than $100 billion left in the U.S. Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, according to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. But the deadline to apply for the last round of funding was August 8. So, before Nevada's mom-and-pop shops see any of that money, Congress has to reach a deal on another pandemic relief package.
Carranza was in Las Vegas Friday, August 21, to visit small businesses and hear their concerns. She told State of Nevada she's "anxious" for lawmakers to come to an agreement so her office can start distributing the much-needed funds.
“We’re very anxious to get these funds right back into the market,” she said.
Carranza said there are 283,000 small businesses in the state of Nevada, representing more than 500,000 employees, which is why she is doing what she can to get Congress to move forward on allowing the funding to be released.
“I always want to reassure the small business sector here in Nevada that this president, this administration, and this is why I’m here, small businesses are very important to us,” she said.
She said small businesses, chambers of commerce, economic development authorities and state leaders across the country are eager for the money to become available.
“It is of mutual interest on both sides of the aisle to really support small businesses throughout the United States,” she said.
The SBA has distributed not only the PPP funds, but also disaster relief loans to businesses in Nevada.
“Combined, here in Nevada, there is closer to $5.5 billion that have gone to small businesses… not every small business applied, and not every small business qualified,” she said.
The PPP loans are forgivable loans if businesses comply with the parameters set up by the SBA, including rehiring employees.
“I compel small businesses, especially sole proprietors and independent contractors, to talk to their local lenders, negotiate the opportunity to provide funding for their businesses,” Carranza said.
When the relief money was first started many small business owners struggled to figure out exactly how to access the loans, because they were administered through certain lenders.
Carranza said the SBA has now partnered with thousands of small lenders to offer loans, including micro-loans of sometimes just a few thousand dollars.
She noted that not all small businesses are construction companies, restaurants or manufacturers. Many, she said, are hairstylists, child care centers or Uber drivers.
Because many small business owners didn't apply for loans originally, she expects they will when lawmakers make a decision on releasing more relief funds.
“That’s why I believe the next $130 billion will probably go pretty fast," she said.
While Carranza is anxious to have the funds released she believes lawmakers will create a funding package.
"They are actually experimenting on how they could package everything for a small business sector in a very relevant, efficient and expedient manner," she said.
Jovita Carranza, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration