Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Committee under Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) examined additional bold legislative solutions to help small businesses recover in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The virtual hearing covered relief efforts put in place during the Great Recession to aid small businesses, current programs implemented since the start of the crisis, and ideas for initiatives to help small businesses moving forward.
“Whether it is utilizing traditional SBA programs or instituting innovative ideas, long-term recovery requires us to think outside the box but also come together in a bipartisan fashion to provide relief to small employers,” said Chairwoman Velázquez. “As Congress works to explore additional ways to help America reopen and recover, I would hope that we would continue to prioritize the smallest of small businesses, the minority-owned and women-owned businesses—the ones that helped to rebuild our nation the last time we found ourselves knee deep in what felt like an insurmountable crisis.”
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, small firms have experienced devastating impacts to their business. Studies show that as many as 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of permanent closure. Thus far, Congress has allocated over $669 billion in grants and loans through relief programs, but as the pandemic stretches on, small businesses remain vulnerable. The hearing gave members the chance to hear from small business owners and experts on additional steps that Congress can take to help small firms stay afloat and grow in the future.
“As Congress considers how best to set policy and allocate government resources to help rebuild the economy,” said Brett Palmer, President of the Small Business Investor Alliance. “Now is the appropriate time to review and improve existing government programs to make sure they provide maximum benefit, that they do so without creating unintentional barriers to their full use, and that they benefit all Americans.”
“My experience is not unique. Almost every independent restaurant across the country struggles with these same issues, or worse,” said Amanda Cohen, Chef and Owner of Dirt Candy in New York, NY. “Some could not access the PPP because their bank took care of other customers first or their bank rejected their applications. Others were afraid to use the loans they got and returned them because they could not afford to make a mistake and take on more debt. Those who got and used PPP loans are seeing them run out or not bridge the time needed to fund operations in this uniquely affected industry.”
“Demographic data on the PPP were supposed to be tracked such that the most vulnerable firms would be prioritized,” said Dr. Lisa D. Cook, Professor Michigan State University. “These data should be collected, and any current and additional relief should be targeted at these firms, including minority-owned. In the long run, the systemic factors leading to the structurally fragile nature of these small minority-owned firms, regardless of the presence of a pandemic, should be addressed.”
The hearing can be viewed in its entirety here.