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Rep. Finkenauer: “We Must Remain Vigilant To The Needs Of Rural Areas”

IARN — Congressional leaders offered financial support for small business owners under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Lawmakers now weigh the value of appropriated funding, which is filtered through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) on Wednesday chaired a virtual forum on the economic challenges facing rural communities amid the coronavirus pandemic

“Today we are going to hear about the challenges facing rural communities from the folks that are living it,” Representative Finkenauer said. “How the COVID-19 response programs are supporting small businesses and what additional steps need to be taken to ensure policy solutions are flexible and dynamic to support small businesses and rural communities.”

Melissa Moretz, farmer at Moretz Farm and commercial portfolio manager at First Citizens Bank, offered insight from a recipient perspective, as well as a lender standpoint. Moretz was quick to point out the benefits of the Paycheck Protection Program.

“The Paycheck Protection Program, in our community and bank’s capacity, has been a big success for our customers. We’ve had folks who have been in tears, grateful for the opportunity our bank has provided them. We were able to provide them that because of the action you have taken.

“I had a local business owner stop me while we were filling out the application together. He said, ‘Melissa, I am responsible for nine families. What do I do if I can’t take care of those nine families?’ At that point in time, I realized, that is what this program is designed to do.” 

Moretz believes the Economic Injury Disaster Loan will benefit First Citizens Bank customers in a similar manner. She adds, “There have been some issues with these programs.”

“Guidance had been slow to come with the Paycheck Protection Program. A big issue we are seeing is we have people getting close to a forgiveness time frame who have just been issued forgiveness guidance. They’ve been spending this money for six weeks and now they’re unsure if they did it correctly.”

Moretz would like to see additional support for small businesses, particularly 501(c)(6) organizations. She, like many, also voiced support for heightened rural broadband infrastructure, which remains “vitally important.”

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.

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