The Federal Reserve’s Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility is up and running and ready to lend to banks participating in the federal government’s small-business rescue efforts, the central bank said Thursday.

Since mid-March, the Fed has announced nine emergency lending programs to help keep credit flowing as the U.S. economy went into lock-down to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The Paycheck program is the fourth to become operational, following facilities that support money-market funds, primary dealers and the commercial paper market.

It provides term financing to banks against loans issued under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The $349 billion program is a centerpiece to the $2.2 trillion legislation that President Donald Trump signed into law last month. Under the program, banks provide loans to small businesses to cover payroll, rent and utilities for up to eight weeks. The loans convert to grants if the firms retain or rehire their workers.

As of mid-afternoon April 15, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported more than 1.4 million applications had been approved, totaling about $305 billion of the $349 billion set aside. Because of administrative delays and bank liquidity restraints, however, much of that money had not yet been disbursed.

The Fed facility is intended to speed the release of funds by providing fresh liquidity to banks. The central bank’s remaining programs, including its Main Street initiative to support medium-sized businesses and facilities aimed at the corporate credit market, are still a few weeks from becoming operational, Fed officials have said.

(Updates with details of PPP from fourth paragraph.)

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