For the better part of a year, the motorcoach industry has been in limbo while desperately awaiting aid from the Federal Government. At long last, with the signing of the latest stimulus bill in late December the much-anticipated CERTS Act was finally enacted. Needless to say, when the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) hosted its first Town Hall of 2021 on January 7, CERTS and its benefits were among the chief topics of discussion.
UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth kicked off the meeting with the promise of a “loaded” legislation update for the members now that more details about the stimulus and CERTS have emerged, and we’re inching closer to the next administration. First, UMA Lobbyist Becky Weber of Prime Policy offered some insight as to what the industry can expect with a newly elected 50/50 Senate. With UMA’s history of working closely with moderates in the House, Weber anticipates having more sway when it comes to motorcoach-related legislation. She also predicts another COVID relief bill in the spring, which could mean more aid for the industry and bolster the economy.
Next, UMA Vice President & COO Ken Presley provided an overview of the CERTS Act, which he called the most significant bill in the industry since economic deregulation was passed in 1982. Bad news first: While it signed into law in December, the $2B bill still has to be worked out and implemented by the Treasury Department. Presley expects that it will be a minimum of 60 days before the program launches, applications are accepted, and aid finds its way into the industry. However, on the plus side, at the last minute it was determined that monies distributed through CERTS may qualify as 100 percent grant. Presley says that the aid package is widely believed to carry a 60/40 rule similar to the PPP (which the ground transportation world became very familiar with in the spring), meaning operators will be required to use 60 percent of their grant on payroll, distributed over 12 months as business ramps up. The remaining 40 percent can go towards rent/lease, insurance costs, and the interest on equipment loans. Presley also stated that small businesses are guaranteed equal access, with particularly consideration given towards minority- and women-owned companies.
The Town Hall concluded with a session by speaker/sales trainer Jim Pancero entitled “Changing Your Mindset.”
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