Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow businesses that share an Employer Identification Number to submit Paycheck Protection Program loan applications. The rule change is designed to make it easier for tribal businesses that share EINs to get access to their own loan.
“Our tribal businesses have unique structures and needs that should be recognized in the way we provide assistance. Right now, many have struggled to gain access to their fair share of PPP funding, and we cannot afford to let these businesses fall by the wayside,” Bennet said.
The Paycheck Protection Program was meant to prioritize minority-owned businesses, but initial data released by the Small Business Administration showed the program fell short. According to data reported by The Durango Herald in July, just five tribal businesses received loans below $150,000, out of 132 loans for which the SBA provided information.
In a statement, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe praised Bennet’s bill and noted that tribes have limited taxing authority and operate multiple tribal businesses to earn revenue for the tribal government.
“Like a lot of tribal businesses that have been denied an SBA loan simply because they operate under a single Employer Identification Number, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and its many businesses have been similarly impacted,” the tribe said. “We appreciate Sen. Bennet’s efforts to address this disparity to make sure that tribal businesses receive the same treatment as non-Indian businesses during this economic crisis.”
Lawmakers are debating the terms of a second relief package, which could include PPP funds. While the program has provided over $100 million in Southwest Colorado, it was criticized for its narrow terms, including one requiring businesses to spend their loan in eight weeks to receive partial forgiveness. That term was changed, but after businesses had nearly spent the loan.
Jacob Wallace is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.