On a March 23, phone call with the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) described a plan he is proposing with fellow senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to help small and midsized businesses and nonprofits stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Main Street Emergency Grant Program is intended to help smaller employers by making $600 billion in grants and forgivable interest free loans available.

The grant and loan proceeds would be available to support fixed costs such as payroll and rent that are necessary for the company to survive. 

Small businesses, self-employed individuals, and certain nonprofits negatively impacted by COVID-19 would be eligible for grants.

To qualify, employers must demonstrate that they were negatively impacted.

The grants could revert to loans if certain conditions are not met (for example not restoring payroll to 80% of pre-COVID-19 levels within 12 months of the termination of the public health emergency).

A business could be able to claim a hardship preventing them from meeting that condition.

Expedited Process

With regard to non-profits, the bill does not extend relief to all non-profits and excludes 501(c)(6) organizations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is circulating a Coalition Letter on behalf of chambers and trade associations urging lawmakers to include all nonprofit organizations within emergency assistance legislation.

For medium size businesses (less than $100 million in revenue and less than 2,000 employees whose business revenue was reduced by 50%), relief would come in the form of forgivable interest free loans.

The proposal provides an expedited process for businesses shut down because of state and local regulations.

Similar to the small business grant, the loans would be forgiven unless certain conditions were not met.  

The proposal provides an expedited process for businesses shut down because of state and local regulations due to the COVID-19 health emergency. 

The bill also contemplates expanded unemployment benefits and eligibility for workers who are laid off during the COVID 19 emergency for direct, immediate relief, while also helping to ensure their jobs still exist when the emergency ends.

 For more information, contact CBIA's Brian Corvo (860.244.1169).