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Montana businesses receive $1.29 billion for payroll relief
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Montana businesses receive $1.29 billion for payroll relief

From the Here's how state and local governments are responding to the coronavirus pandemic series
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In less than two weeks, Montana small businesses have received nearly $1.3 billion in federal aid to keep employees on payroll and out of unemployment.

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued state-level numbers Tuesday, revealing that 10,372 Montana business had been approved for loans totaling $1.293 billion though Monday.

All told, the SBA has spent $247.5 billion since the Paycheck Protection Program launched April 3. Congress had approved $349 billion at the end of March. It is now seeking to add another $200 billion.

“This program is critical to keep Montana small businesses open and their workers employed,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, tweeted Tuesday. "We must work together to boost funding for PPP now.”

The Paycheck Protection Program offers Businesses federally backed loans to cover up to eight weeks of payroll and related overhead. The money doesn't have to be repaid if at least 75% of the money borrowed goes to payroll and the remaining 25% is used for expenses like utility costs, and lease and mortgage payments. The rate on money that has to be repaid is .5%.

At Yellowstone Bank, President Jay Harris said his staff had processed 211 loans by April 10, totaling $34 million.

Cary Hegreberg, Montana Banker's Association CEO, said in an email that one the telling thing about the Montana loans was average amount issued. At roughly $120,000 per loan, Montana's borrowers were receiving half the national average, a good indication of the size of the businesses being helped, given that the eight weeks of payroll was the biggest driver for the amount loaned.

Also Tuesday, the SBA made the program available to bars. Daines, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte were among 15 legislators who wrote President Donald Trump April 8 asking that bars be included after hearing from the Montana Tavern Association, whose members had been shut out of PPP if one-third of their revenue came from gambling.

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