Region 6 Small Businesses Press Forward During a Tough 2020

By Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate

Courageous small business owners continue to fight hard to save and grow their firms in 2020, despite a pandemic and the related government-ordered shutdowns. These businesses are simultaneously attempting to navigate the maze of government regulations and evolving financial assistance programs.

Many small firms do not have attorneys or CPAs on staff, so when the Small Business Administration first rolled out the expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loan and new Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act, the Office of Advocacy received lots of calls for information. We were able to direct these companies to the appropriate pages on the SBA website or to the proper telephone numbers at the agency to answer their questions.

We heard from a small business that was importing masks under a government purchase order during the early stages of the pandemic response. The owner explained that foreign firms selling masks wanted cash up front, and that banks were unusually hesitant to loan money to companies based on government purchase orders. He said that this caused delays and the need for securing alternative financing, resulting in an increased cost to the government for masks. He suggested that government procurement procedures be revised to have some flexibility to address such situations during emergencies in the future.

We also spoke with another company that produces disinfectants and hand sanitizer products. The owner was concerned about EPA regulations that impacted the supply chain and endangered his ability to purchase key components. We contacted EPA to provide information, which allowed him to resolve the situation.

On April 30, 2020, the IRS published Notice 2020-32, which provides guidance on the agency’s position that some business expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans would not be deductible. Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill have stated that the IRS notice conflicts with the legislative intent of the CARES Act. Small business leaders have called Advocacy to express their opinions on the IRS’s policies regarding the deductibility of PPP funds used for payroll expenses.

Advocates are receiving helpful advice from firms in many different industries. We are here to listen to you and to advocate on your behalf.

Regional advocates in the Office of Advocacy continue to be in touch with small businesses across the country. As the Regional Advocate for Region 6 – Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas- please feel free to contact me. If you live outside Region 6, find your advocate here.