With small businesses in need of local chambers of commerce and tourism initiatives more than ever, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) are calling on Senate leaders to amend the CARES Act to allow small 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program. Organizations that would become eligible for a forgivable federal loan to cover payroll and overhead expenses during the COVID-19 crisis include local chambers of commerce, tourism boards, and trade associations.
Whitehouse and Reed outlined their request in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as the leadership of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“Local professional associations, chambers of commerce, and visitors bureaus have been working hard to provide Rhode Island’s businesses with assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitehouse and Reed wrote in the letter. “Many have already had to lay off staff in order to keep their operations going, and as the pandemic’s economic effects are likely to continue for months, local 501(c)(6) organizations will continue to struggle with declining revenues. As some communities begin the process of reopening, it is important that small businesses have access to as much assistance as possible. Should these organizations continue to face revenue shortfalls and staffing reductions, many small businesses in Rhode Island will lose helpful resources in a time of high need and uncertainty.”
Whitehouse and Reed are calling for the Paycheck Protection Program to be extended only to 501(c)(6) nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees.
Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act and appropriated a total of $659 billion for the program, which was intended to be a lifeline for small businesses and workers. More than $100 billion in program funds are still available.
The Senators’ letter is available here.