WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced April 11 that 8,400 Maine small businesses have been approved for $1.5 billion in Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.

Dozens of Maine lending institutions are currently participating in the program, his office said in a news release.

“The Paycheck Protection Program I co-authored went live eight days ago. In those eight days, 8,400 Maine small businesses were approved for $1.5 billion in forgivable loans,” said Senator Collins.. “This urgent aid will help keep workers’ paychecks coming and small businesses afloat. I will continue to work closely with Maine’s banks and credit unions, the SBA, and the Treasury Department to help ensure that all of this approved funding is disbursed as soon as possible.

Paycheck Protection Program loans were created by the American Workers Compensation and Employment Continuance Actwhich was written by Senator Collins with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to help small employers continue to pay their workers for a period of 8 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release.

These loans will be canceled as long as employers keep their employees on the payroll, the statement said. Some overhead costs, including utilities, are also included. The legislation was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and signed into law March 27.