Biden is changing PPP rules: Small business owners weigh in

For two weeks only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can claim pandemic relief loans.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:46 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE/CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -On Wednesday, only small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to apply for the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The changes are designed to make it easier for businesses that previously could not qualify.

Sole proprietors or businesses with no employees such as the Raggedy Man, downtown Eau Claire.

“And so I missed out on that one, which was unfortunate especially hearing a lot of the mega-big businesses that got relief for it,” says Pabich.

Owner Matt Pabich has one employee besides himself.

He says the shift to focus specifically on smaller small businesses is a welcomed change of pace.

“Everything’s just been upside down, for everyone and so any support is greatly appreciated, especially kind of hopefully getting into a year that might be a little less, rocky,” Pabich laughs.

According to the SBA, 98% of small businesses employ fewer than 20 people, but have received only 45% of PPP funding this far.

Carl Smiske and wife, Cassie own The Chippewa Store in downtown Chippewa Falls.

They did not qualify for the forgivable loan the first time around either.

“The government started giving out these loans and right away I didn’t qualify for any of them so what do you do? You start hustling and you start networking,” says Smiske.

Smiske says he’ll apply again, but has reservations.

“If I’ve got bills coming up I’m not going to depend on that payment to help me with the bills,” Smiske says. “If it comes in, great I’ll save it and use it to get caught up but I’m not going to use it as a complete lifeline because I don’t think it’s still enough to completely take over what I’ve already invested here.”

Shawn Phetteplace with the Main Street Alliance Wisconsin, says there are better ways to provide aid to struggling businesses than a forgivable loan.

Citing a few flaws in the current federal aid program.

“The first is that you have to have good enough credit, to receive access to the loan and if you are a newer business, if you are a microbusiness that might be problematic and so that cuts off of a lot of folks who need support right now,” says Phetteplace.

Phetteplace says calling on state legislative leaders to support the American Rescue Plan making its way through Congress would allow for more flexible spending by small businesses.

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