Tester Relays Local Concerns to Small Business Administration: Montana Small Businesses, Lenders Need Immediate Relief

Taverns and outdoor economy must be included in Paycheck Protection Program, Senator urges

Following conversations with Montana small businesses and lenders across the state, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to immediately act to include more Montana businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program and to address concerns and frustrations from Montana’s business community about the slow rollout of programs designed to provide relief in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While the CARES Act is far from perfect, I fought to ensure small businesses would receive relief they need to weather this storm and ultimately supported its passage,” said Tester. “Unfortunately, I am hearing from frustrated small business owners about the lack of clarity on what resources are available, the frequent malfunctioning of the SBA’s website, and the delay in funds getting into the hands of those who need them. These administrative barriers need to be addressed immediately. I have heard similar concerns in my frequent conversations with Montana’s financial lenders.”

In his letter, Tester also reiterated his call to make sure Montana small businesses that have been excluded from the Paycheck Protection Program—in particular Montana’s taverns, Tribal businesses, and outdoor recreation economy—have access to the services they need to stay afloat.

“Many of Montana’s main street businesses and job providers were ineligible for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program,” Tester continued. “Not allowing businesses that profit from legal gaming leaves behind many of Montana’s family-run taverns and native-owned businesses. It also doesn’t take into account seasonal workers that contribute to Montana’s thriving outdoor economy.”

Tester has led the charge on pushing to make sure small businesses are the focus of efforts to shore up the economy, and that Montana businesses that are currently excluded from relief programs get the support they need to keep the lights on. Last week, Tester called on Senate leadership to provide more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and to expand the program to make sure it covers outdoor industries with seasonal workers, taverns with income from gaming, and Tribal businesses. He also recently called directly on the SBA to make sure taverns qualify for all CARES Act relief programs.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding includes $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Read Tester’s full letter HERE.