Biden makes changes to small business assistance program

US President Joe Biden on Monday announced changes to the coronavirus small business aid program to extend the support to smaller minority companies and sole proprietors not covered by previous rounds of aid.

For two weeks starting Wednesday, the Small Business Assistance Program will only accept applications for conditional non-repayable loans from firms with no more than 20 employees, officials said. This initiative aims to ensure that they are not crowded out by larger companies.

On Monday morning, the White House published a newsletter describing the changes being made.

When the program was launched in April 2020 as part of a $ 3 trillion aid package, the first $ 349 billion ended in two weeks. Congress approved another $ 320 billion in May, but the program expired in August, leaving about $ 130 billion in unused funds.

The program was relaunched on January 19, when another $ 284 billion was allocated at the end of December. According to a spokesman for the Biden administration, there are still about $ 150 billion left.

However, the administration says there are still many small firms in low-income regions that have not been able to get help.

The changes are intended to make it easier for firms without employees – sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed individuals – to get help.

The program also plans to provide $ 1 billion for businesses without employees in low- and middle-income areas that are 70 percent owned by women and people of color.

In addition, new clarifications have been provided to clarify that non-US legal residents, such as green card holders, cannot be excluded from the program.

The administration also plans to improve the efficiency of the program by streamlining fraud checks, updating loan applications and improving government websites.

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