America’s small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crises, facing numerous financial challenges during this period of economic downturn. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) have teamed up to remedy some of these issues. 

To do that, they introduced the Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act, which aims to provide small businesses with targeted, flexible monetary relief. 

“Small businesses are still barely hanging on. Congress must confront the fact that our current recession isn’t going to magically disappear and take action,” said Golden in a release. 

The program would offer loans to businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic for a period of up to one year. Those loans would be partially forgivable for expenses like payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utility payments, and personal protective equipment. 

Golden says this plan builds off the success of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a previous coronavirus relief effort primarily targeted at small businesses. 

“The PPP was successful, but it was an emergency measure. We must address its flaws and learn from it to help more businesses and save more jobs going forward,” said Golden. The Maine representative has talked to small business owners in the state who felt they were left behind by the PPP. 

“Based on the feedback I’ve been receiving directly from Maine small businesses, the RESTART program is the best path forward to keep local firms above water and keep Mainers employed,” said Golden. 

Travis L. Ferland has been the owner of the Rangeley Inn and Tavern since 2013, and he says the hotel industry is shrouded with uncertainty due to the virus, especially in Maine. 

“One thing that’s certain is that we’ll need cashflow to keep things moving here at the Rangeley Inn. The RESTART Act would help us with many of our most pressing bills and expenses, including payroll,” said Ferland. 

Along with providing businesses with loans, the RESTART Act would also provide the following: 

  • Offer partially forgivable loans to small businesses that had a greater than 25 percent drop in their total income compared to the period before the coronavirus pandemic
  • Set the loan period between six months and one year depending on severity of income losses
  • For loan amounts that are not forgiven, defer principal payments for up to four years
  • Require publicly traded companies to repay the full loan amount
  • Report on identities and any loan forgiveness amounts of all recipients of the RESTART loans who have 50 or more employees