Senate Calls for Loan Program to Aid Small Businesses
The House’s bill to aide small businesses during states of emergency saw significant changes in the Senate Wednesday, giving lawmakers more control of the aide program.
The original West Virginia Small Business Emergency Act included a laundry list of potential aide written into emergency rule by the director of the Department of Homeland Security and approved by the governor
But Chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee Senator Bob Williams said Wednesday the bill was too broad and too many details needed to be considered in a hectic time like a state of emergency.
Instead, the committee is proposing a small business emergency loan program that can be enacted through executive order.
“It’s simply going to be a loan program that will be kind of a micro loan program, small amounts, perhaps up to $5,000 per loan that will help small businesses get over the hump,” Williams said.
The program is capped at a total of $2 million and is only available for businesses with less than 50 employees who are impacted by a declared state of emergency.
Businesses will have two years to pay back the loan and the interest rate will be set at half the federal prime rate so it can fluctuate with the market.
Loan applications will be accepted for 90 days after the close of any state of emergency.
“So, when the governor says the state of emergency no longer exists, then they’ll have 90 days to go through their records and see what kind of losses they have and apply for the loan,” Williams said.
Williams said the governor has access to $2 million in his civil contingency fund, which is a possible source of funding for the program. If the governor should need more than that $2 million, the bill requires him to call the legislature into special session to appropriate the funds.