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COVID-19 Special Update: Essential Print and Paycheck Protection Program

Press release from the issuing company

In these unprecedented and uncertain times, Printing Industries of America is committed to providing the printing community with the most up-to-date resources on the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Below is the current state of print related activities as of April 9, 2020.

Advocacy to Define "Print" as Essential Workplace
As previously reported, PIA has taken a strong and public position to advocate that “print” be specifically defined in the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) recommendations to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector as to what constitutes essential critical infrastructure workers imperative to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance document–which is non-binding, but geared to avoiding a patchwork of confusing state and local orders–was originally published on March 18 and has been updated twice. Both updates have improved the status of print as essential, but it has not been made explicit. PIA is appealing directly to DHS and CISA to ensure inclusion of our industry. Such clarity is crucial now that more than 40 states (plus hundreds of localities) are under “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders and law enforcement scrutiny of non-essential vs essential business operations is on the upswing. CISA is expected to release yet another update soon, and PIA is urging that “print” be specified as clearly as possible. Stay tuned.

Paycheck Protection Program Update
If you’re following the COVID-19 Resource Channel, you’ll see PIA has been blogging daily developments regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (SBA loans) since its rather rocky launch last Friday, April 3, 2020. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration continue to provide updated guidance, FAQs, expanded lender lists, and additional information. (The most recently updated FAQs for borrowers were published last night, April 8, for example.) PIA has heard about frustrating experiences and is conveying feedback to Treasury and SBA, but we’ve also heard success stories from small printers and packagers who have secured these lifeline loans. Stay informed, stay persistent. Visit www.treasury.gov/cares for ongoing details; we will also provide blog updates as new developments happen.

A key additional development in play this week: Trump Administration officials and Senate Republicans are pushing a technical update to the CARES Act to provide an additional $250 billion to fund the Paycheck Protection Program. Senate Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned over the weekend that at the current demand level, the fund could run dry by June 30. Speaker Pelosi publicly agreed and called for congressional action to authorize these additional funds; however, at press time there is a logjam over whether funding for additional recipients (i.e., hospitals, state & local governments) be included. While the legislative process may get ugly, PIA is quite optimistic that all parties will find a path forward to ensure that all small printing companies in the queue for these loans will be serviced.

Breaking: Main Street Lending Program (Mid-Sized Business Relief)
As of today, April 9, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board have announced new and expanded lending programs to address the impact of COVID-19 on mid-sized business, defined as businesses up to 10,000 employees. Known as the Main Street Lending Program, this initiative will complement the relief efforts already underway, such as the above-mentioned Paycheck Protection Program, plus Employee Retention Credits and Economic Impact Payments (direct taxpayer checks). Using funds appropriated by the CARES Act, Treasury will make a $75 billion equity investment in a special purpose vehicle to implement this mid-sized employer lending program. Treasury estimates this investment will enable up to $600 billion in new financing for companies with up to 10,000 employees OR $2.5 billion in 2019 annual revenues. Details regarding how businesses can apply for these loans are expected to be released in coming days.

New Laws, New Loans, (a lot of) New Guidance
With every new law and government program comes a slew of implementation details known as “guidance.” PIA is working diligently to review new guidance issued by Treasury, SBA, Department of Labor, OSHA, EPA, and similar agencies, and to relay it to our member companies in concise and useful formats. Please know that there is often a lag time between the signing of a law or announcement of a new program and the implementation or compliance details surrounding it. Check PIA’s COVID-19 page and the blog posts on the COVID-19 Resource Channel often for updated guidance to help your company navigate the myriad legislative and regulatory changes impacting the industry as part of the government’s pandemic response.

Future Congressional Action on COVID-19 Response
Congress is expected to draft a Phase IV legislative response (and possibly a version 3.5 stimulus package known as CARES 2) that will focus on additional economic recovery. PIA will continue to press for provisions to mitigate the negative economic consequences of this pandemic to our industry.

What Can Printers Do?
Government response to the pandemic is changing day to day. The economic impact is mounting. It’s important that Congress hears from printers that the industry is taking a hit but also working to manufacture essential printed material: financial, insurance, and health care documents; mailed advertisements to support struggling retailers and restaurants that are adapting to curbside and delivery models; and critical government information regarding public safety, elections, and more. Take a moment to email your lawmakers to let them know your company’s specific concerns and needs—as well as what you are doing to keep commerce alive during this challenging time.

Stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay positive.

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