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Closings, Cancellations and Delays


Employers who let employees go finding it hard to qualify for CARES Act relief to bring staff back to work


WNAX - April 14, 2020

PIERRE, SD - Businesses hit by the pandemic have several loan and grant programs available. And banks across the country are the conduits for federal dollars to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus disruption.

Steve Westra, Commissioner of the South Dakota Governors Office of Economic Development, says the federal paycheck protection program is being handled by local banks.

“You now have the ability to go the banks within your local communities and they will help you apply for the federal paycheck protection program,” said Westra. “We are encouraging all businesses in South Dakota to look into this and more importantly, to at least apply for it.”

He continued, “It will definitely help them get employees back in place. That is the intent of what Congress passed this for. It will help the overall business to get through these very difficult times.”

But Curt Everson, president of the South Dakota Bankers Association, says the lending guidelines aren’t helping some.

“I’ll be honest with you, they are a lot more helpful to businesses that had kind of hung in there and were able to keep their employees on the payroll. It’s not quite as useful (at least the way things look right now) for those who actually had to lay people off and then try to get them back on the payroll.”

Westra says the legislature also approved a state loan program.

“That program in particular can be used for working capital. Very attractive terms, zero percent interest. There are no payments for first six months, there are no loan fees. And it is something that can be deployed rather quickly.”

He added, “Our goal is from the time we get those applications to the time of approval and to the dollars actually being deposited into these business accounts, to be roughly one week.”

As to the federal relief programs now available, Everson says businesses need to keep good records and the loans will turn into grants.

“Assuming you meet certain requirements that are set forth in the Act within certain time frames, yes, that was the intent.  I think Congress’s intent was appropriating loans that would mostly become grants at some point in time or forgiven loans.”

Westra says the priority is to help companies hang on to their workers.

“We know the rents are due, we know the utilities are due, we know that health insurance premiums are due We want to get these dollars out and deployed in South Dakota as quickly as possible to help these businesses through these very difficult times. He added, “These loans are going to be based on a first-come, first-served basis.”



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