U.S. CEOs urge Congress to approve small business coronavirus rescue aid

Small businesses in the United States need a "Marshall Plan" to survive the financial challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, a group of 100 U.S. CEOs told Congress in a letter. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Aug. 4 (UPI) — Saying American small business owners need a “Marshall Plan,” 100 U.S. CEOS of large companies such as Starbucks, Salesforce and Walt Disney Co. urged Congress in a letter to provide more rescue aid for small businesses.

“Small businesses are essential to our country’s economic and social health,” said a letter posted on the website of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “They employ almost half of all private-sector workers and account for 44% of U.S. gross domestic product.”

The letter was also signed by heads of trade associations for restaurants, sports franchises, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

CEOs urged lawmakers to put aside partisan bickering and extend federally guaranteed loan programs, such as the $700 billion Paycheck Protection Program, well into 2021. These funds must “flow to all small businesses in need, particularly those run by people of color,” who have not historically had access to capital, the letter said.

The letter was addressed to Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House.

“This is not a call for bottomless handouts,” the CEOs said. “It is a defining moment to show how capitalism can benefit all Americans, particularly entrepreneurs who have been forced to shutter or reduce capacity through no fault of their own.”

On July 27, Senate Republicans rolled out a $1 trillion Health, Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) package that included a second paycheck protection program installment, as well as a second $1,200 individual rescue payment for taxpayers.

This proposed rescue program needs to be reconciled with bills passed by House Democrats in May.

The $3 trillion HEROES Act proposed more generous benefits for local governments and first responders along with unemployment payments and rent and mortgage relief.

Meanwhile, more than 30 million small businesses need emergency relief, right away, the letter said. By Labor Day, the nation faces an upcoming “wave of permanent closures” if the “right steps” are not taken soon. Most small businesses don’t have enough cash in the bank to weather more months of reduced revenue and customer traffic, the CEOs said.

“Tens of millions of Americans have already lost their jobs in this pandemic … By year end the domino effect of lost jobs — as well as the lost services and lost products that small business provide — could be catastrophic,” the letter continued.


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