Retailers welcome expansion of federal lending program to bigger businesses

Marianne Wilson

The National Retail Federation welcomed the Federal Reserve’s decision to allow larger mid-size businesses hit by COVID-19 to participate in its $600 billion Main Street Lending Program.

Under the new guidelines, businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenues will be eligible to apply. The move was proposed by NRF earlier this month.

“Expanding eligibility for this program will provide much-needed support for some of America’s most recognizable brands and their workers, who have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” stated NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Access to financial relief should be available to businesses of all sizes, but many midsize businesses were left out of the CARES Act relief package. Today’s announcement will close that gap and ensure that companies in the middle can access valuable economic support critical to preserving their ability to reopen quickly once the crisis has passed.”

As created by the Fed, the Main Street Lending Program was limited to businesses with no more than 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue. But in an April 16 letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, NRF said those limits would leave out hundreds of retailers and asked that the Fed and Treasury “exercise discretion to make these programs more widely available.”

A number of retail CEOs reiterated the concern during a recent call between NRF and Mnuchin. On April 30, the Fed said it would the program to include companies with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenues.

The Main Street Lending Program is a component of a three-part package of federal lending initiatives adopted to address the pandemic, including the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses with up to 500 workers and customized liquidity facilities for the nation’s largest employers.

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