Program authored by Collins still leaving Maine small businesses behind


Yesterday, Maine Democrats hosted a roundtable featuring small business owners sharing their stories of frustration, uncertainty, and disappointment with the Paycheck Protection Program authored by Senator Susan Collins. While small business owners have struggled to navigate the complicated SBA application process, Trump and Collins have allowed large corporations to take more than $1 billion from the program.


All four business owners highlighted the lack of clarity from the federal government on the application process for small business support and the challenges that presented as they tried to apply. Nearly every participating business owner said they contacted Senator Collins’ office for assistance but were unable to get the information they needed.


You can watch a recording of the full event here, or read excerpts from Maine small business owners below:


James LaPlante, Owner of SoPo Coworks & Sputnik Animation, South Portland:


“To this day, I have not received any communication from the SBA on the status of my loan application. [...] The only email I’ve gotten from them recently is an email from Steve Mnuchin self congratulating himself on the wonderful job he’s done with the SBA. And I can tell you he doesn’t deserve anything for that. This has been an infuriating process and it makes it really hard for me as a business owner to continue to work.”


Dani Nisbet, Owner of Belissimo Salon, South Portland:


“I was really dissatisfied with Susan Collins’ office because I did call there every week and I continue to call there every week.”


“And let me tell you this wasn’t an easy process. I’m not Ruth’s Chris, I’m not McDonalds, I’m not the Lakers who all got the big money, who had accountants ready at hand to do what they needed to have done. I did not.” 


Matthew Irving, Owner of Quill Books & Beverage, Westbrook:


“No matter who we spoke with, the answer was consistently that there was no guidance coming from the federal government and that there were numerous others seeking the same information. When guidance did begin to come in regarding the terms, it soon became clear that this program would not serve our industry, the hospitality industry, at all.”


“We have the capability to bring help to those who need it. The open question is, will we come up with real solutions, or more platitudes and empty expressions of concern?”


Linda Homer, Owner of Downeast Pilates, Southwest Harbor:


“I applied for the PPP as soon as that came out and [...] they rolled it out so quickly, and Susan Collins stamped her name on that as quickly as she could, but there was no guidance.”


“I have called two of Senator Collins’ offices asking for help. It was a three week process with one office where I spoke to a staffer who told me as we were speaking, ‘I’m writing all this down and I’m gonna send you an email as soon as we get off the phone.’ Which never happened.”


“I feel like I’m one of those who has been left behind. My future is very uncertain and I wish there was more help for us.”