By Bob Katzen

The Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses’ held a live virtual hearing on a bill that creates a Massachusetts PPP to help small businesses which are unable to conduct business through the COVID-19 emergency but do not qualify for the Federal PPP, by making them eligible for a state version of the program. This would provide small businesses with less than 500 employees, including eligible sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals, with a loan to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments and utility payments. Businesses would also be eligible for the loan to be forgiven and turned into a grant if the funds are used properly.

The state program would also cover cannabis companies which are not included under the federal program because the industry is still illegal under federal law. “Equity relief should be administered equitably, and this bill is a step in the right direction,” said industry consultant Jim Borghesani. “Cannabis companies pay taxes, create jobs, provide direct funds to communities and take business away from street dealers. They should have the same Paycheck Protection Program access as other businesses.”

“It’s my sincere hope that the administration puts a plan in place to allow these small businesses to operate again with strict safety measures,” said Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “This bill was filed as a last resort for the many businesses who remain closed and completely ineligible for any type of loan or grant assistance from the federal government. These are local families who pay taxes and employ our neighbors. They’re going under and we need to throw them a rope.”

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