What New Stimulus Package Means for Arizona, Nation

Article originally posted on AZ Big Media on March 11, 2021

Congress approved a new $1.9 trillion stimulus package Wednesday to help carry the nation through the final stage of the pandemic. Out of that, Arizona expects to receive about $12 billion for aid to businesses, schools, families and others still struggling from pandemic shutdowns and disruptions.

After several hours of testimony on the House floor, the stimulus package measure, which was passed by the Senate on Saturday, was approved along party lines, 220-211, with all Democrats in support. Passage of the bill comes as expanded unemployment benefits are set to expire Sunday.

President Joe Biden issued a statement celebrating the bill’s passage, saying he is ready to sign it into law.

“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance,” Biden said.

Main Street support

Corporate America and Arizona business leaders expressed reservations about the bill’s size and scope.

“The business community and state leaders will be poring over this bill in the coming days to better understand all of its implications,” said Garrick Taylor, interim president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “This bill, obviously, contains more than just targeted spending directly related to the fallout of the pandemic, but its inclusion of public health funding and tools to end the scourge of this pandemic once and for all is welcomed. Widening and accelerating the distribution of the vaccines is essential to relieving the pressure on our healthcare system and getting the broader economy back to full strength.”

Here’s what’s in the stimulus package

Here’s what the American Rescue Plan Act means for businesses, schools, families and others still struggling from pandemic shutdowns and disruptions.

Restaurants, bars and food service providers: A dedicated relief fund of $28.6 billion is intended to help small and mid-sized restaurants, bars, caterers, food trucks, breweries and other food service providers in need of assistance with rent and operational expenses. It provides grants of up to $10 million per entity with a maximum of $5 million per location based on the difference between 2020 and 2019 revenue.

Small businesses low-interest loans: The package provides $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for small businesses to receive to low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Advances for small businesses of up to $10,000 may be converted to grants if used to cover business’s operating expenses. The smallest companies, those with fewer than 10 employees, will be given priority for some of the funding.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Provides an additional $7.25 billion for the PPP program. Expands eligibility to 501(c) nonprofits (except 501c4) and larger nonprofits, as well as internet-only news and periodical publishers. However, the Act does not extend the PPP’s current application period, which closes on March 31.

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