Keep Main Street Working

Our livelihoods in this country are tied to employment. When jobs are on the lines, so are the essential benefits working families need to survive: health care, sick days, income. We must immediately stabilize workers and employers in impacted industries by providing direct subsidies to small and mid-sized employers for the purpose of maintaining their workforce at full pay and continuing to provide health insurance and other essential benefits. This will minimize the potentially catastrophic economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our economy, stabilize individuals and families in their homes, and prevent a tidal wave of demand for unemployment insurance and emergency medical insurance that states may not be able to manage.

Small businesses need immediate cash flow assistance, and longer term payroll and health insurance subsidies.

There are currently no proposals large enough to truly tackle this emerging threat. Republican leadership in the Senate have proposed a plan to loan small businesses much needed cash, but the vehicle to distribute the support won’t move the resources efficiently enough, and it’s lacking in protections. We applaud Senators Murphy, Merkley, and Van Hollen who have released the Main Street Emergency Grant Program which would provide up to $600 billion in grants to small business owners through the Treasury Department to cover fixed costs like payroll and rent. This proposal deals with much of the problem but needs to be expanded to cover more impacted businesses. 

We need swift, targeted stimulus that supports small and medium businesses to maintain payroll and benefits so families and individuals can meet their basic needs and weather this storm. We need a Keep Main Street Working plan including: 

  • Direct federal subsidies to employers impacted by COVID-19 to cover payroll, health insurance premiums and mortgages/rent
  • Progressive level of support based on employer size and impact to industries up to 1,000 workers (includes tipped employees and independent contractors in impacted industries)
  • Retroactive to February 15 based on loss of business
  • Operated out of Treasury or the Fed with tough oversight to ensure close scrutiny and prevent cheating
  • 5-10 year no interest loans with streamlined application process to cover other fixed expenses
  • Moratorium on commercial evictions

This is an extinction-level event for small businesses in the US. Without a substantial, immediate response that addresses the magnitude of this problem, our small business sector will be devastated– and the jobs that support these industries will not return. This is the best investment we can make right now to secure our economy against the long term impacts of this pandemic.

Without an unprecedented, immediate response that addresses the magnitude of this problem, our small business sector will be wiped out entirely – and the jobs that support these industries will never return. Keeping Main Street working must be included in the third COVID stimulus package now being designed.  This is the best investment we can make right now to secure the economic security of our country.

This is a first priority in a broader stimulus package needed for small businesses and our employees that includes unemployment insurance, health care, and paid leave. Small businesses have traditionally led economic recovery, and they accounted for 67 percent of net new jobs following the Great Recession. We need to give small businesses the support they need to drive recovery again.

Main Street needs a massive stimulus investment now. It would prevent the carnage to our local economies, our families, and health care facilities and workers. 

For a comprehensive breakdown of Main Street Alliance’s Small Business COVID-19 Response Package, see: https://www.smallbizcovid19.com/our-recommendations