Cooperative businesses must be able to fully participate in the Paycheck Protection Program created by the CARES Act coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation, CUNA and other organizations wrote to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Wednesday. The program was funded at $349 billion to help businesses keep workers on their payroll, and while credit unions will be able to help make loans using the funds to member businesses, it’s unclear if they are allowed to participate in the PPP as well.
“The intent of the Paycheck Protection Program is to provide the necessary financing to enable businesses to keep workers on their payrolls. If cooperative businesses and their employees are not able to access this financing tool, they will be put at a devastating disadvantage relative to other types of businesses in their industry sectors,” the letter reads. “Current regulations express that cooperatives are an eligible legal form for purposes of SBA’s 7(a) loan program. In addition, section 1102(b)(1) of the CARES Act makes clear that the PPP applies to any business concern currently eligible for SBA programs.
“When considering whether to include cooperatives as part of PPP, we urge you to exercise the broadest authority possible to ensure that employees of cooperatives are included in this critical program,” it adds.
There are more than 65,000 cooperative businesses the U.S. that generate more than $75 billion in annual wages, and the letter notes those businesses are “facing the same economic hardships as other business models,” making it imperative that cooperative businesses are treated equally with other business structures and able to access the PPP, the letter adds.