More than 1,000 small businesses in Maine have been deemed eligible to receive funding assistance under the federal government’s new Paycheck Protection Plan loan program, an indicator of the volume of  businesses struggling to contend with the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the state.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tweeted Sunday afternoon that since the program went live on Friday, a total of 1,026 Maine employers have been approved for $291.9 million in Paycheck Protection Plan loans. Collins did not indicate how many additional Maine small businesses were in the pipeline for funding consideration or when those funds might become available.

“Relief is on the way for the employees of Maine’s small businesses! In just two days, 1,026 Maine employers have received $291.9 million in Paycheck Protection Plan loans,” Collins tweeted.

Collins was among four senators who co-authored The Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act included in the bipartisan $2.2 trillion relief package that passed the Senate 96-0 on March 25. The other members of the Senate’s Small Business Task Force who sponsored the act were Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; and Ben Cardin, D-Md.

The law provided $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release issued by Collins last month. The program is retroactive to Feb. 15 to help bring workers who have been laid off back onto payrolls. It will remain in effect through June 20.

“Every day, I am hearing from small-business owners who are anxious about the future of their businesses and how they can continue to pay their employees,” Collins said in the news release. “The last thing they want to do is to lay off their employees, but they fear they may have no choice. When these businesses suffer, it has a cascading effect on workers, from housekeepers to wait staff to bartenders to fishermen to drivers to retail clerks.”


The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses – defined as those having fewer than 500 employees – with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs, including benefits. Funds may also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. A loan will be fully forgiven if employees are kept on a business’s payroll or rehired quickly at the same salary level. Forgiveness will be reduced if a business’s headcount declines or if salaries and wages are decreased. At least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must also have been used to cover payroll expenses.

Once the applications started coming in Friday, Maine lending institutions shifted into high gear. Katahdin Trust Co., which has 16 offices across Maine, started processing loan applications around 4 p.m. Friday and by the time the team finished working Sunday, they had processed and approved 160 small-business paycheck protection loans worth about $43.8 million, according to Bill Lucy, executive vice president of Katahdin Trust’s commercial services division.

Lucy said his team worked tirelessly into the night Friday, all day on Saturday, and for most of Sunday approving and inputting loans for nonprofit and for-profit small businesses across Maine.

“We were on all fours scrambling to get ready because we didn’t know exactly what to expect,” Lucy said in a telephone interview Sunday night. “But the Small Business Administration did a remarkable job to get this program up and running as fast as it did. We had no challenges or difficulties. It was smooth sailing from start to finish.”

Lucy could not be more specific as to when the small businesses would actually receive the loans, but he said it should be fairly soon. “It should be in short order,” he said.

Small businesses and sole proprietorships, including nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations, and tribal businesses, were allowed to start filing applications on Friday. Starting April 10, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. Restaurants and hotels are also eligible to apply if each of their locations has fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses are being encouraged to apply as soon as possible because there is a funding availability cap.

Small-business owners can apply for loans through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or participating Farm Credit System institution. All loans carry the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.

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