Economic relief package could help north country businesses

Economic relief package could help north country businesses

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The $900 billion economic relief package passed by congress Monday night should help small businesses in the north country.

The stimulus package contains another round of the “Paycheck Protection Program,” (PPP) which last spring provided a lifeline to many small businesses - and their employees - as the effects of the virus kicked in.

Watertown Savings Bank President Mark Lavarnway said his institution helped more than 600 small businesses the first time around.

“It was really rewarding for us, and I think it helped a number of our customers survive the pandemic early on,” Lavarnway told 7 News Tuesday.

PPP is a loan program in which in many cases the loans don’t have to be paid back.

Qualifications for the coming round appears to be narrowed to the hardest-hit small businesses.

“Day one we’ll be ready to go. We’re just waiting for the final guidance, and we’ll do that. But, I don’t think it will be the same number as last round,” Lavarnway said.

The federal government set aside $284 billion for the current round of PPP, with special help for businesses of 10 or fewer employees.

Liz Lonergan of the Watertown Small Business Development Center said that fits the needs of the north country.

“That’s the majority of the Small Business Development Center’s client base, and that’s the majority of our small businesses,” she said.

The package also includes a payment of $600 to people making less than $75,000 a year and tacks on $300 to people’s unemployment benefits extended to March 14, 2021.

The WorkPlace of Jefferson County Executive Director Cheryl Mayforth said the extra money could make a difference to local families.

“This 300 dollars could be a determining factor in meeting the needs of their household,” she said.

The relief package isn’t law yet; it now needs a signature from President Donald Trump.

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