Small defense companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic could receive loans from money larger defense contractors have not used. The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) will try to convince Congress to move money in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act so the $17 billion allotment does not expire.
This move would help sustain the health of the Defense Industrial Base by supporting small businesses that are struggling because of the coronavirus. “Our intent here is to make sure the small business industries in the Defense Industrial Base are healthy, and this would go a long ways in helping them,” explained Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle (USAF, Ret.), President and CEO of NDIA.
The money comes from Section 4003 of the CARES Act, intended to be a loan to help businesses get through the difficult economic situation. It has not actually gone out to these companies, however, because of some of the prohibitive restrictions placed on it by Congress and the administration. “As far as I know, I don’t think any of the $17 billion has gone out yet … very few companies applied for it,” said Carlisle.
Carlisle explained that for the change to happen, Congress has to recolor the money appropriated for Section 4003, put it into the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and “let them use that to take SBIR to Phase 2 and Phase 3 for already existing embedded small businesses that are doing work for the Defense Department.”
“Hopefully in the next stimulus package they can do that fairly quickly,” Carlisle added.