Positive PPP experience

In a recent opinion piece published by the BDN, local business owners indicated that they had negative experiences with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

I too am a business owner who utilized the program to claw my way through the initial economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, and my experience has been nothing but positive. I’d like to share my story.

About four years ago, Sen. Susan Collins and her office played an important part in helping cut through red tape to open the doors to my small business. We couldn’t have done it without her.

Fast forward to today, and she again helped with a PPP forgivable loan for my small business, Masons Brewing Co. I found the process to be simple, straightforward and easy to manage. My funds arrived within a few weeks after my initial application.

I commend Collins for helping to write the plan, and for being so responsive to the needs of our industry through multiple updates to the program that provided the flexibility that we needed.

The PPP provided the means for me to keep employees from utilizing the state’s crippled unemployment system. It also allowed us to be more responsive during the state’s gradual reopening.

Collins has battled to help small Maine businesses survive long before this worldwide scourge took center-stage. Her ongoing efforts have helped us continue doing business in these very uncertain times. She should be applauded for her care and concern for Maine businesses and their employees.

Chris Morley

Mason’s Brewing Co.


Let’s stay focused

As Maine looks past phase two of our statewide reopening, our state’s hard-hit businesses have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. How long it takes to get there is up to us. A full reopening and return to regular life won’t be possible until we have a vaccine for COVID-19, but in order to remain open in the meanwhile, Mainers must use precautions when entering a public space.

As our retail businesses begin to bring in customers and our restaurants return to full seating, it is more important than ever that we continue to mask-up, wipe down and wash our hands regularly. Human-to-human interactions are becoming more common, and unless we take every precaution to protect ourselves, that could be a recipe for a dangerous second wave that puts our hard-fought reopening at risk.

Maine’s businesses must keep stocked with masks and sanitation products and stay up-to-date testing and tracking the virus in our communities. Fortunately, our state’s health care suppliers have worked overtime to procure vital medicines and preventative care supplies, keeping us stocked through the peak of the crisis. Their partnership with our pharmacies and retail drugstores offers a layer of support for businesses in need of critical supplies.

As we look forward to a full return to normal, we have to stay focused on the challenges at hand. Ensuring every business is prepared to reduce transmission is the most important step we can take.

John Picchiotti


Republican unemployment answer not good enough

Sen. Susan Collins must vote to extend the full additional $600 unemployment weekly benefit in an upcoming coronavirus relief bill to support the thousands of Mainers who have lost work through no fault of their own.

Unfortunately, part of her answer is that people should not receive benefits greater than the income they were making previously. The sad truth, though, is that for families expenses during the pandemic have gone up. Why?

Costs for items such as food, shelter, utilities and homeschooling have risen.

The cost of child care has risen due to fewer providers and increased fees.

Inability to pay bills can lead to late charges, lower credit ratings, bank fees and higher credit card balances. Many are delaying needed medical care, leading to higher future expenses (e.g. dental cleanings).

The loss of housing due to inability to make monthly payments, or even eviction, adds cost and possibly legal fees.

Many are experiencing mental health issues that are hard to receive care for, can make personal problem solving difficult, and which may add to expenses and suffering.

Does Collins not think that Mainers are hard workers who want to work? COVID-19 cases are rising dramatically nationally, businesses are laying off workers, small businesses have closed and we are not out of this economic crisis.

For the sake of vulnerable Mainers, Collins must think in a broader, more deeply considered, and compassionate manner. It is more complicated than simply towing the pat Republican ideology — the facts on the ground count more.

Elizabeth Skillings