Policy Update 2/23/21: PPP Loans for Small Nonprofits, $10 million in Gap Economic Recovery Grants, and Unemployment Insurance

Fewer than 20 Employees? Act Fast – Now Is the Best Time to Apply for a PPP Loan

For a two-week period, the Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program lenders will process loan applications ONLY from nonprofits and for-profit businesses with fewer than 20 employees. 

Starting Wednesday, February 24 and running through Tuesday, March 9, the exclusive small-employer PPP processing window is designed to provide more equitable relief by “targeting the PPP to the smallest businesses and those that have been left behind in previous relief efforts” to ensure that lenders give smaller employers the attention they need to work their way through the application process.

If you think your nonprofit may be eligible for an initial PPP loan or a second draw loan Congress authorized at the end of 2020, now is the best time to contact a lender and find out how much relief may be available. Learn more and apply.

Don’t forget about Vermont’s weekly webinars:

The Need for Relief Tailored for Nonprofits

This consideration for small businesses and nonprofits is one step towards providing more equitable relief for nonprofits who serve as economic drivers and vital community partners across our state. Nonprofits employ 1 in 7 Vermont workers, making the nonprofit sector the largest industry in the state after the government. Vermont nonprofits contribute $5.7 billion per year to the economy through wages paid, retail and wholesale purchases, and professional service contracts (data.commongoodvt.org).

Join nonprofits nationwide calling on federal leaders to provide COVID stimulus and relief tailored to nonprofits! Read the letter and sign on today. Providing relief tailored to nonprofits is essential to our state’s economic recovery. If you agree, sign on to our national letter with the National Council of Nonprofits here.

As Vermont’s policymakers consider the FY22 budget and our own packages, we echo the National Council’s ask and urge state leaders to consider these provisions this session:

  • Provide Nonprofit-Specific Grants, Forgivable Loans, and Refundable Tax Credits for All Nonprofits
  • Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentives by increasing and extending the above-the-line deduction while preserving the itemized charitable contribution deduction, all to ensure that nonprofits have the resources to serve their communities.
  • Provide 100% Unemployment Benefit Reimbursement to nonprofits that self-insure these benefits, both retroactively to 2020 and extended through the first three quarters of 2021.
  • Provide Substantial Financial Aid to State and Local Governments to avoid layoffs and cuts to essential programs and services, and to prevent the imposition by governments of new costs and burdens on their nonprofit partners.

FY22 Budget and $10 million in Gap Economic Recovery Grants

In Vermont, this session is heavily focused on COVID-19 relief and FY22’s proposed state budget including over $210 million in new spending. Over 34 nonprofits testified in response to the proposed budget including 5 networks, associations, and coalitions serving a minimum of 150 nonprofits!

If you are new to the budget process, and have questions, you are not alone. The Lake Champlain Chamber shared their week 7 Budget Update highlighting Governor Scott’s FY22 Proposed budget and clarified how the process works, “the way that the budget moves can make it difficult to follow. The Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate are hubs where the final bill is put together, however, the detailed work of each section is done by the committees of jurisdiction. In the House, this takes an even more formal feel with committees sending memos to the Appropriations committee indicating their priorities.”

While there is much to unpack in this year’s budget, we call specific attention to a potential $10 million in Gap Economic Recovery Grants. This helpful visual from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development breaks down overall cost of Community Development and Economic Development Proposals within FY22 Proposed Budget:

The $10 million in Gap Economic Recovery Grants could provide relief to businesses and nonprofits who were not eligible or received partial funding from PPP or EIDL.

Unemployment Insurance for Self-Insured Nonprofits

Additionally, we are calling attention the need for full unemployment benefit reimbursement to self-insured nonprofits. There are a couple bills in the works that we are following.

Federal and state laws give nonprofits the option of operating as self-insured (“reimbursing”) employers that make payments to their state unemployment insurance systems for benefits attributable to them in lieu of making advance contributions. Shut-down orders by government officials and program cancellations have forced nonprofits to furlough or layoff staff, triggering immediate, catastrophic bills for unemployment costs that for-profit businesses have not had to pay during the worst stages of the pandemic and economic downturn. These challenges have exacerbated cash flow difficulties for nonprofits that have forced nonprofits to not only divert valuable funds from mission services, but also, ironically, to layoff more employees to have resources to pay Vermont’s unemployment bills.  

We urge Vermont to increase the state unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-insured or reimbursing nonprofits to 100% of costs retroactively to 2020 and extend the relief through the first three quarters of 2021. 

Email director@commongoodvt.org if your organization is self-insured and you would like to advocate on this issue. Common Good VT will be organizing a letter and testimony over the next week.

For those interested in engaging with state policymakers or watching a committee meeting? Stay informed by watching committee meetings here and find your local representatives and senators here.

Further Reading:

The Deeper Dig: A guide to the governor’s budget

In budget address, Scott pitches major investments in pandemic recovery

National Council of Nonprofits Overview of Unemployment Insurance