A woman wearing a mask walks by an empty storefront in Portland on Wednesday. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Paycheck Protection Program loans given to small businesses in Maine are approaching $500 million so far this year.

More than 6,000 small employers have been approved for more than $460 million since the program reopened last month, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said. More than 28,000 small businesses in the state received $2.3 billion in PPP loans last year, the senator said.

Collins, who was the co-author of the Paycheck Protection Program, said the program is “sustaining jobs across our state and providing essential support to Maine’s small businesses that have endured an extraordinarily challenging year.”

Second PPP loans are available to small businesses that employ 300 or fewer workers and suffered a gross revenue loss of 25 percent or more due to the coronavirus pandemic.