Rep. Stefanik talks about relief funds for small businesses, self-employed on conference call
Friday, March 27, 2020 - 1:25 pm

BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week

Small businesses, non-profits, self-employed workers and sole proprietors should look to the financial institutions to apply for COVID-19 relief grants and loans, according to Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

She also suggested businesses follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and county Public Health officials for COVID-19 guidance.

The 21st District representative made the comments during a Friday, March 27 webinar hosted by the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce to field questions from local small business owners.

Relief Grants, Loans

"You are eligible for new forgivable loans. It covers rent, payroll, mortgage … that portion of the loan will not have to be paid back. It is forgivable,” Stefanik told more than 50 people listening in on the call.

She said “it’s essentially a grant” but some of the money may have to be paid back as a “low-interest loan.” She did not say specifically what “low” means.

Local banks and credit unions will administer the program on behalf of the Small Business Association (SBA).

The congresswoman suggested business people interested in looking into the loans should “put together your financial info as early as possible” and contact a lender to indicate interest.

Stefanik said the government is also expanding unemployment benefits to people who wouldn’t normally be eligible, like independent contractors, and also increasing the weekly stipend and the number of weeks recipients can collect.

Returning to Work a Public Health Decision

One of the questions was if there is a plan to get businesses back open.

“The priority is public health,” she said, later adding that businesses should “continue to follow the guidelines set out by our public health offices.”

Stefanik said the federal government is working on issuing relief checks to people based on 2018 or 2019 taxes, whichever has been filed more recently. Retirees will be eligible, based on their information from the Social Security Administration, Stefanik said.