The COVID-19 stimulus bill that President Joe Biden signed into law March 11 includes more help for small businesses, restaurants, and shuttered venues.

The $1.9 trillion rescue plan adds $7.25 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program and expands eligibility to small businesses and others hurt by the pandemic, including more nonprofits.

It includes a $28.6 billion grant program to provide direct aid to restaurants.

And it provides another $15 billion the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program that helps concert venues, museums, and theaters that were forced to close due to COVID restrictions—and allows those businesses to apply for the grant and a PPP loan.

U.S. Small Business Administration senior advisor Michael Roth said the funds will “continue to lift up the cornerstones of our communities: the mom-and-pop businesses and nonprofits that provide essential services for our everyday lives, hire from within neighborhoods, and more.”

FFCRA Tax Credits, Grants

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also:

  • Extends from March 31 to Sept. 30 the tax credits available to employers who voluntarily provide FFCRA leave
  • Earmarks $10 billion for state governments to help leverage private capital and provide low-interest loans to small businesses hurt by the pandemic
  • Allocates $15 billion to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small, minority-owned businesses and those in underserved areas, including $5 billion in supplemental advanced payments for the hardest hit small businesses
  • Provides $1.3 billion to the SBA to help it administer the many new responsibilities it has assumed during the pandemic

It also includes $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program with grants going to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID pandemic assistance programs and resources, the SBA said.

PPP Loans

What it doesn’t do is extend the PPP program beyond its March 31 deadline.

Although a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a bill to extend the deadline to May 31 and give the SBA 30 days beyond that to process applications, there are concerns with the current deadline.

That’s because some lending institutions working with the SBA have stopped accepting PPP applications in order to have enough time to process pending applications.

Through March 7, the SBA made $678 billion in PPP loans to 7.6 million applicants since the first round of loans were issued in the spring of 2020.