(KPAX) HELENA — Businesses across Montana have received financial assistance through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, set up through the CARES Act relief package during the COVCID-19 emergency.
One of the institutions benefiting from the program is Carroll College. President John Cech said the college has applied for – and been approved for – about $3.3 million through the program.
“It’s helps ensure the continuity of operations, that no one is furloughed, and helps us to ensure that we move into the fall season very strong,” he said.
Cech said, like many other colleges and universities, Carroll has had to make big adjustments to deal with the effects of COVID-19.
“I am so thankful to our faculty and staff for the incredible work that they’ve done in moving to fully remote learning this spring,” he said.
For Carroll, the impacts go beyond the classroom. In the summer months, the campus ordinarily hosts a variety of conferences, camps and other events – some organized by Carroll and others that rent space on the campus.
This year, many of those events have been canceled because of the pandemic.
“The auxiliary enterprises during the summertime are a significant part of our annual budget,” said Cech. “So when those auxiliary enterprises are interrupted, as they were this year due to COVID-19, that provides an impact to the budget.”
Cech said leaders weren’t initially sure Carroll would qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed as an incentive for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll, and it is limited to those with 500 or fewer employees.
Carroll has a total of around 545 employees, including part-time student workers. After the first round of PPP applications, Cech said they contacted elected leaders, asking for clarification on how the employee count is determined.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza of the Small Business Administration. In it, he encouraged them not to include temporary student employees in the PPP employee count.
“Including temporary student workers unfairly inflates the employee total for colleges and treats Carroll College unfairly,” Gianforte said in the letter. “In Helena, Carroll College is an important private employer and having access to the PPP would have a profound impact on the local community.”
The SBA eventually released updated rules, stating that students on work-study programs wouldn’t be counted in the employee total. They said other federal laws generally exclude work-study students from being counted as employees. That change was enough to make Carroll eligible for the PPP.