On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed the federal stimulus known as the CARES Act into law. That package contained an unprecedented $376 billion in relief for the Small Business Administration to help businesses stay afloat as the novel coronavirus devastates the local and national economy.
As of this morning, the SBA says they are out of money. A note on the SBA’s website states: "SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding. EIDL applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis."
That leaves countless small businesses in Oregon in a continued state of freefall. As Portland Monthly previously reported, a number of local business organizations have called upon Governor Brown to use her authority to help them, stating they would not be able to rely on the federal stimulus. Today, that looks like an increasingly accurate statement.
Because the SBA disperses funds through multiple local lenders instead of one central bank, the response to business owners has varied immensely. Portland Monthly asked multiple owners in a Crowdcast held by Built Oregon today if any had received their Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA, and answers ranged from "fully received" to "received, but for a lesser amount than asked" to "haven’t heard any response at all."
Six of Oregon’s elected officials—all Democrats—say that scattershot response isn’t enough and they want more answers. Congressman Kurt Schrader, alongside Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici, and Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, wrote an open letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza on April 15.
“We write today requesting information on the disbursement of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds in Oregon. Small businesses are the backbone in our state, employing 823,658 Oregonians according to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) latest Small Business Profile for Oregon,” they wrote in the letter. “At the same time, we hear consistently from Oregon small businesses and non-profits applying through the SBA’s EIDL program that once applications are submitted they are unable to check on the status and we have been able to verify few EIDL awards to Oregon businesses and non- profits.”
The group asks the SBA to furnish answers to the following questions:
- How many applications to the SBA EIDL program have been submitted in Oregon?
- How many of those have been processed and approved?
- What criteria is SBA using to award the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDLEA) and what is the average amount of EIDLEA in Oregon?
- How much money through the SBA EIDL program has been disbursed in Oregon?
- Is SBA currently offering or developing a way for small businesses and non-profits to check on the status of their EIDLEA or EIDL?
- What is the expected amount of time for small businesses and non-profits in Oregon to receive both their initial EIDLEA and full EIDL, if approved?
“During this challenging time, I’m hearing from many small business owners who are justifiably upset about the lack of clarity around the loan program that was intended to help them. I will keep fighting for more funding for the loan programs that Oregonians are counting on, but the Small Business Administration needs to do its part by improving communication and transparency,” says Rep. Bonamici via email. “Anxious entrepreneurs need and deserve answers, and we need accountability so Congress can confirm that the funds are being equitably distributed to those most in need.”
The text of the full letter is below.
Please visit our resource guide for small businesses dealing with the impact of COVID-19 here.