By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it was expanding a major lending program to provide support for businesses struggling to cope with the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fed said that it was expanding the scope and eligibility of its Main Street Lending Program which is designed to provide up to $600 billion in loans to small and mid-size businesses that have been harmed by the pandemic and the efforts to contain it.
The Fed said it was allowing businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in annual revenues to qualify for loans. That is up from earlier limit of 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue.
The minimum loan size is being reduced to $500,000, down from an original minimum loan size of $1 million.
This support program, one of many the Fed has unveiled over the past two month, is designed to provide businesses with loans of up to four years from banks at below-market interest rates. Unlike a separate program being run by the Small Business Administration, the loans from the Fed must be repaid but payments can be deferred for one year.