(The Center Square) – Renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program appears to attract fewer applicants to Maine amid questions about the new rules, issues within the SBA system and business owners wanting confirmation that their first loan will be canceled before taking another, according to a business industry observer.

“The 25% gross revenue cut rule, some challenges to request a second if their first loan forgiveness request is being processed (SBA system issue), some [are] wait to make sure their first loan is canceled before applying for a second even if they qualify, ”David Clough, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses of Maine (NFIB), said in The Center Square by e-mail. “Some are just waiting, still wondering if they should apply or not.”

The program was a lifeline for many companies, helping many people to reopen or be able to stay open. Still, many are uncertain of Maine’s short- and long-term economic conditions. Clough said that for some businesses the glass is half full or better, and for others, half empty or worse, the recovery is affecting businesses in different ways.

“It was expected last April that the situation would only last about a month and the economy would rebound quickly,” Clough said. “We know forecast today is more precise; certain sectors of activity could be for the most part recovered by the end of the year, but the recovery in other sectors will be delayed in 2022. “

The state economist’s official forecast projects that it could be several years before the jobs suddenly lost in 2020 can return, Clough said.

“The forecast went from cloudy with a chance of meatballs to partially sunny with a chance of scattered meatballs,” Clough said.

There are new programs designed to help small businesses. Clough noted that the Consolidated Appropriations Act expanded eligibility for the employee retention tax credit, but many small employers may not know that.

Small businesses will continue to be affected by the economic conditions of the pandemic for many months to come.

“Even after all emergency public health protection orders are lifted, it will take time for businesses to recover financially, and customer support from local businesses will be crucial,” Clough said.

“It will also be crucial to avoid further spending imposed by politicians in Augusta and Washington, DC,” Clough said. “Higher labor costs, higher taxes and additional regulations will have bigger consequences for small businesses because their financial resources are very tight and their ability to manage the future very uncertain. “

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