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Stimulus aid for ‘small business’ will go to some big chains

By Ryan J. Foley | 1 April 2020

ASSOCIATED PRESS — As the federal government prepares to launch a $349 billion loan program meant to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, critics have growing concerns that some mom-and-pop shops might get squeezed out.

The Paycheck Protection Program — part of the $2 trillion relief package signed into law last week — was billed as a way to help local businesses that often form the fabric of communities retain workers and pay bills. But an expansive definition of “small business” in the law means that it will be open to much more than just Main Street shops when lenders start processing applications Friday.

Operators of name-brand hotel, restaurant and service chains and franchises with thousands of employees at locations scattered across the U.S. are eligible. Lobbyists are also pushing the Small Business Administration to interpret the law generously to help sectors devastated by mandatory business closures and stay-at-home orders, possibly making the aid available to international fast food and lodging giants and allowing individual owners to get around a $10 million cap on loans. […]

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