PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Charter Coach will hire back nearly all full-time employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a loan under the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Peoria Charter President and owner Bill Winkler announced the news on Wednesday.
“This loan is providing Peoria Charter the opportunity to give employees back their jobs and livelihood,” Winkler said. “Although travel is not something that is currently occurring during this pandemic, we are actively searching for opportunities to help our community.”
The co-owner of Peoria Charter, James Wang, recently posted a video on their Facebook showing how medical professionals can use their charter bus fleet as makeshift testing sites or mobile treatment centers.
“We are able to remove seats, provide outlets and high-speed WiFi, and storage underneath the coach for equipment or generators, all while being mobile,” Wang said.
Peoria Charter has received more than $2.5 million in cancellations over just the past 30 days.
“We reached out to Rep. Darin LaHood in our time of need, and he went above and beyond for our business,” Winkler said.
The company laid off more than 120 employees and ceased the service between Peoria/Normal and the Chicago Area as an effort to reduce costs, while the companies’ income came to a rapid halt.
“This is exactly what we envisioned when we enacted the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act,” LaHood (R-Ill.) said. “This loan will allow Peoria Charter to keep their employees working, earning paychecks and supporting local businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic. This isn’t just a benefit to the employees of Peoria Charter. It will help support businesses and workers throughout the Peoria, Normal, and central Illinois community, and I will continue to do what I can to support them as we navigate this challenging time.”
The Paycheck Protection Program is a $349 billion emergency loan program created with the President’s signing of the CARES Act. The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses left financially distressed by the viral pandemic.
The loans are administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions and are designed to maintain the viability of millions of small businesses struggling to meet payroll and day-to-day operating expenses.
Small businesses interested in the program should contact their local lenders. The loans, which are 100% backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), are being provided to small businesses without collateral requirements, personal guarantees, SBA fees, or credit elsewhere tests.
The loans cover up to eight weeks of average monthly payroll, based on 2019 figures, plus 25% and payments are deferred for six months (interest does accrue). The SBA will forgive the portion of loan proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated operating expenses for up to eight weeks, provided at least 75% of loan proceeds are used for payroll costs.