What the new stimulus package means for our region

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 03/27/2020

Final package includes relief for small businesses, distressed industries, and vulnerable workers

On March 27, Congress approved the third phase of stimulus funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the President signed it into law.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a number of investments that are critical to helping businesses and workers in our state and region.

The Seattle Metro Chamber worked with business organizations around our state to send a consistent and coordinated message to our Congressional delegation and the President about the importance of immediate assistance to Washington and the Seattle metro region, which has already seen weeks of dramatic economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. You can read our joint letter to our Congressional delegation here and our letter to the President here. We also engaged in regular conversations with the offices of Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

We’re proud to report that the final CARES Act reflects several policies we advocated for, including major investments such as:

  • Small business support through $350 billion in federally guaranteed Small Business Administration loans, which will be forgivable loans in some cases, to businesses with under 500 employees and some franchises.
  • Help for distressed sectors, including our region’s aerospace and aviation industries, as we advocated in an op-ed in this week’s Puget Sound Business Journal.
  • Expanded federally-funded unemployment benefits to help vulnerable workers.
  • Direct funding for state and local governments to cover unexpected costs of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The CARES Act also includes policies essential to helping businesses survive such as:

  • Payroll tax deferral: Employer payroll and railroad retirement tax payments could be deferred.  Also allows 50% deferral of self-employed Social Security tax payments.
  • Employee retention tax credits: Refundable credit against employer payroll and railroad retirement taxes for certain employers that are hurt by the coronavirus but retain their employees.  The credit would be for 50% of eligible employee wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021. The credit would not apply to federal, state, or local government employers.

You can read a helpful summary of what the CARES Act includes here as well as a detailed breakdown here, courtesy of our consultant, Monument Advocacy. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s office has also put together answers to frequently asked questions about the different parts of the bill.

Even with this massive investment, we know that the still-unfolding effects of the pandemic mean our community and many others will very likely need more resources. There is broad agreement that Congress will begin work on a fourth phase of stimulus funding in the weeks ahead. State and local governments also have a critical role to play, and we will continue to fight for the policies and resources that you, our members need, to respond to and recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to being your business advocate, we also serve as King County’s Associate Development Organization (ADO). As the organization responsible for business retention and expansion in King County, we are committed to being visible, clear, and responsive to businesses who need help as the federal and state relief dollars start to flow. Our program director, Ashton Allison, has been working with the state, suburban cities, and the City of Seattle to coordinate resources, help businesses now, and prepare for the bow wave of requests that will come soon. If you operate a business in King County and have questions about the SBA disaster loan application process or other available programs, please reach out to Ashton at ashtona@seattlechamber.com.