On the release of the updated HEROES Act and renewed negotiations for COVID relief in Congress, Cynthia Ward Wikstrom, Campaigns Director for Main Street Alliance had this to say:
“This renewed push for support is critical to our nation's small businesses and American workers, particularly our restaurants and venues industries and the small businesses federal programs ignored, who continue to need crucial support to survive. The updates to the PPP program, including additional rounds of funding, along with the elevation of more targeted grant programs -- especially for those excluded from PPP -- is welcome. This bill would immediately address urgent needs for those who have been waiting far too long for support through this crisis. From renewed support for unemployed workers, to expanded paid sick and child care leave, to a lifeline for States and localities on the frontlines of this health crisis, passage of this bill would provide critical cover to our local economies as we prepare for COVID’s winter surge.
We urge Congress to pass this bill immediately and demand that the Senate take up the support.
Small businesses have waited far too long for needed relief, and the consequences of delay have meant thousands of closures impacting the labor market and economy. Political games and austerity are not the answer - Senate Republicans must come to the table and take action. We will see massive closures of small businesses and continued record unemployment if they delay action any further.
Below are critical components of the legislation to support small businesses:
Grants for unbanked and small businesses for whom current programs were not designed: As of August, Black-owned small businesses had closed at three times the rate of white-owned small businesses, suggesting a lack of federal support to those communities. The inclusion of portions of the Save our Streets Act and RELIEF Act will get needed aid to the micro-businesses and local programs that work in unbanked communities. There is also critical grant relief for industries hit hardest and coming back last - such as restaurants and $10 Billion for live music venues.
PPP Forgiveness Fixes: With continued confusion and frustration on loan forgiveness, this bill clarifies and simplifies the forgiveness process using a three tiered system. A recent GAO report noted that only 1% of loans had been forgiven so far. Forgiveness is key to the successful recovery for small businesses, otherwise small businesses can not plan and will be saddled with debt in an uncertain environment.
PPP Updates: This new HEROES Act takes the lessons of the PPP over the summer and continues to push the program towards something workable for small businesses. From expanding eligible expenses to closing loopholes for larger businesses, there are targeted funds for low-middle income areas, and it also sets up the possibility for a P4 Loan (a second draw, based on revenue losses).
EIDL: The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has been riddled with delays and underfunding. This clarifies how the program works with those who took out PPP loans, as well as improves the interest rates and application process, and removes the caps for loans both for new borrowers and allows existing borrowers to increase their loans up to $2 million.
ERTC: Counties that elected direct subsidies to business, have been spared the massive spike in unemployment we have experienced here in the US. We need direct subsidies -- not loans to all employers with fewer than 500 employees to cover fixed costs and bring employees back on payroll at full wages. Increased investment in the Employee Retention Tax Credit is a tool to achieve this and has been improved to cover 80 percent of wages.
Paid Sick Leave and Paid Leave: This bill strengthens the paid sick leave and paid leave provisions from the Families First Act, which left out key sectors such as frontline workers and those who worked for large corporations. Strengthening these components will support public health, and ultimately put us on the road to recovery sooner. Small businesses have reported good experiences with the emergency programs from the Families First Act. The pandemic shows just how important a sustainable paid leave foundation is, not only for future crises, but for typical life events. Small businesses need a level playing field now more than ever. We need paid leave for all to keep our economy strong and our workplaces and public spaces safe for everyone.
Moving this bill forward must be the priority for the Senate now, not an unpopular push to fill a SCOTUS seat. We must prioritize the current, immediate needs of American workers and small businesses."