Working Through COVID-19 Together
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
Like other businesses across the country, my office has had to dramatically shift how we operate as we fight COVID-19 as a nation. Congress began implementing teleworking procedures nearly a month ago and my office is following social distancing and work-from-home protocols that the CDC has recommended.
Thankfully, modern technology allows us to keep our phone lines on, our emails open, and our casework operations functioning. I’ve been able to host a tele-town hall focused on your questions about COVID-19 every single week since the CDC began implementing social distancing. I want to be clear – if you need assistance during COVID-19, we are up and running, and we can help you if you contact our office.
I recognize the ability to telework is not available to everyone, especially in states like South Dakota, where many of our businesses are in rural locations without access to quality internet. That’s why I felt it was important to support the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will provide relief to businesses facing hard times during this pandemic.
The CARES Act is geared toward American families and small businesses. During my recent tele-town hall, more than two hundred South Dakotans had a specific question about their job or business. The CARES Act was passed with the goal of ensuring small businesses, non-profits, tribal businesses, and veterans organizations keep folks on their payroll. If your business is struggling because of COVID-19’s impact, you are likely eligible for a Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program loan. If you use this “loan” to cover the cost of your payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities for an eight-week period, the loan will be forgiven if you keep employees on payroll. During this time of economic uncertainty, it’s crucial businesses utilize this program and keep folks on the payroll.
As of today, you can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating in the Paycheck Protection Program.
Small businesses aren’t the only ones being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our farmers and ranchers are feeling it too. I’ve taken this period of tele-working to host conference calls with our producer groups like the South Dakota Cattlemen, South Dakota Stockgrowers, and South Dakota Ag & Rural Leadership Alumni. They’ve all told me times are tough. Just like I’m fighting for South Dakota’s small businesses, I’m fighting for our ag producers – that’s why along with 140 Members of Congress, including Senator Thune and Senator Rounds, I led a letter to Secretary Perdue requesting swift assistance to cattle producers with resources we worked to get included in the CARES Act.
Most of us have never faced times like this before, but when times get tough, South Dakotans get tougher. We will get through this together, and if you need assistance please do not hesitate to contact one of my offices.