Tester Secures $56 Million in Pandemic Relief for Montana Small Businesses

SSBCI program will support small businesses through state and Tribal programs, will provide technical assistance to businesses applying for aid;

After hearing directly from hard-hit Montana small businesses about the challenges they’ve faced throughout the pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that he secured $56,234,176 for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) in the recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP), which will support business financing through state and Tribal programs.

Tester, a longtime champion of the SSBCI program, pushed hard to include this funding in the ARP. He was the only member of the Montana delegation to vote in favor of the legislation

“Montana’s small businesses need access to capital fast in order to create jobs, and I’m proud to have secured this funding for the SSBCI program in the American Rescue Plan because it has a proven track record of doing that,” said Tester. “Now the state needs to again partner with our local economic development organizations to get this relief out the door and into our economy quickly, because these development folks know the needs of businesses in their communities better than anyone in Washington or Helena ever could. They’re going to be essential partners in making sure our state’s small businesses-which are the backbone of our economy, by the way-get growing and creating jobs again.”

SSBCI was created following the 2008 financial crisis and was hugely successful in Montana when the state distributed funding through regional economic development organizations. An October 2016 evaluation of SSBCI found that, by the end of 2015, state SSBCI programs supported nearly $8.4 billion in new capital in small business loans and investments with $1.04 billion in program funding.

Leaders in economic development from across Montana praised Tester’s efforts in securing these funds for small businesses and the state’s local economies:

“The original SSBCI program created a very positive and productive opportunity for Southeastern Montana Development Corp and the nine counties within our region,” said Jim Atchison, Executive Director, Southeastern Montana Development. “It created a collaborative partnership with our banking community. We look forward to the $56 million that will be coming to the State of Montana, creating more opportunities for small businesses in Montana. We appreciate Senator Tester’s support for the SSBCI program.”

“Funding for the SSBCI program is fantastic news for Montana,” said Steve Arveschoug, Executive Director, Big Sky Economic Development Corporation. “We had a lot of success with this program back in 2011 and appreciate Senator Tester’s support. This program is critical to economic recovery for Montana.”

“These loan capital funds will enable economic development lenders across Montana to partner with our banks and credit unions to fill financing gaps so local businesses have the capital they need to recover and thrive,” said Brett Doney, Executive Director, Great Falls Development Authority. “We look forward to working with the Montana Department of Commerce to once again put SSBCI funds to work in great Montana small businesses faster than any other state.”

“These SSBCI funds will be critical in helping Montana emerge economically from the pandemic,” said Paul Tuss, Executive Director, Bear Paw Development. “Investing these funds in already-established, professionally managed revolving loan funds across our state is the best way to assure that Montana businesses have the capital they need to grow and that entrepreneurs can pursue their dream of starting a business. Senator Tester understands that a healthy economy for our state starts with a healthy Main Street, and I know that’s why he has been such a champion at the federal level for a robust SSBCI Program.”

Tester fought to include $10 billion for SSBCI in the ARP to support small business financing through state, territorial, and tribal government programs, and provide technical assistance to small businesses that need legal, accounting, financial and other kinds of advice in applying for small business support programs. This includes $500 million for Tribal government programs and $500 million to provide technical assistance to small businesses that need legal, accounting, financial and other kinds of advice in applying for small business support programs.