by Cameron Crowe
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce held a teleconference to answer questions from state business owners on the economic relief package passed last week in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A big topic Scott discussed was the paycheck protection program, which is an SBA loan that is in place to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the crisis.
Mike Reichenbach, owner of Reichenbach Ford and Lincoln in Florence, said businesses were told they could begin applying for the loans April 3. However, as of Friday morning, many banks were unable to process the loans.
Scott said this is an issue that they are working with financial institutions on, and they hope to have it fixed as soon as possible.
With $358 billion available, Reichenbach said every business owner he knows is eager to take advantage of the program.
“This is very different than a hurricane because it is not going to be over in a few days or maybe weeks or maybe months, so the name of the game is really cash retention so that businesses and my peers can stay open if this situation goes on longer than we thought,” said Reichenbach.
Harriet Hobbs, President of the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce, said she was thankful for Scott speaking with the chambers to provide them with more information on the stimulus package. She has also reached out to the senator’s office about having a town hall meeting with Darlington and surrounding counties.
Hobbs said her businesses did not have enough time to submit their questions ahead of Friday’s meeting. She would like to see a town hall meeting where the businesses she supports can have an opportunity to have their specific questions answered.
“I want my people to be able to sit in front of their computers and have a day or two to think, let their gerbil run on its wheel and think of the questions they want to ask him,” said Hobbs.
Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce President Mike Miller believes that Scott was able to address some concerns and make things clearer for local businesses.
Miller said Scott provided the information in a way that businesses could easily understand. He added that it was important the senator addressed several issues in the original relief proposals and explained how the money was being allocated.
Miller said while he is proud of Scott for playing such a huge role in passing this bill, he does believe there will be a need for additional legislation in the future.
“There is going to be a mad rush right now early on. With the early filers trying to get the money as soon as possible to keep themselves going, but from a funding standpoint I think everyone is well convinced there is going to have to be additional funds,” said Miller.
Miller said while he believes there are some details leaders are working to iron out, the communication as to how the programs are supposed to work has improved.