President Joe Biden has recently unveiled his American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package intended to address the Covid-19 pandemic by providing funding for vaccinations, relief to families hit hardest, and support for struggling communities. While members of Congress are currently debating the provisions and cost of this proposal, many small business owners and business leaders see it as a necessary lifeline to make it through this pandemic.
In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who historically doesn’t support many Democratic proposals, issued the following statement, “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomes the introduction of President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Specifically, we applaud the President-elect’s focus on vaccinations and on economic sectors and families that continue to suffer as the pandemic rages on.” Additionally, Moody’s Analytics, , estimated that the plan would create 7.5 million jobs in 2021, double economic growth, and return the economy to full employment a year faster.
Let’s be clear. The businesses that have been able to stay open do not consider Covid-19 pandemic themselves out of the woods just yet. They are still struggling and many are closing. Just last week, Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant was forced to close after serving customers in the Washington metropolitan area for the past 38 years.
“Covid hit us hard the last ten months. We never felt comfortable returning to indoor dining. Carry out only since March 2020 was not sustaining a restaurant built to hold 200 customers,” the restaurant stated on its Facebook page.
Loss of revenue is not the only thing hitting businesses hard. So is a lack of stability. A recent article highlighted Patrick Mulvaney, the chef and co-owner of Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, a farm-to-table restaurant in Sacramento. The restaurant received a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan early on and was able to reopen for outdoor dining in June. However, all California restaurants were forced to shut down again after Thanksgiving through an order by Governor Gavin Newsom because of a surge in coronavirus cases.
“That kind of took the wind out of our sails for the first time,” said Mulvaney. “It’s that process of closing and opening and closing and opening that really gets you.”
If implemented effectively, the Biden Administration’s plan could provide that Covid-19 pandemic much-needed stability. Among the package’s many provisions are a national program to set up community vaccination sites nationwide and efforts to contain Covid, including testing and tracing, high-quality treatments, and paid sick leave. It also provides support to the workers hit hardest by the crisis and their families through programs that include $1,400 per-person checks, housing and nutrition assistance, and extended unemployment insurance.
For small businesses to survive – their workers, customers, and community must also survive. In a press call last week for a newly formed coalition called Shaundell Newsome, a small business owner from Nevada, Chairman of the Board of the , and a co-chair of said, “Small business owners create two out of three new jobs in this country. Every dollar you invest in small businesses is an investment in jobs, workers, and the community.”
This type of support is necessary not just to keep businesses open, but to help industries bounce back. For example, the travel industry supports nearly one in 10 American jobs and is arguably the hardest hit by the pandemic. A noted that nearly $500 billion was lost over the last 10 months in travel spending and 42% of layoffs nationwide between March and November of 2020 “are attributable to declines in direct travel employment.”
“We are encouraged by the measures to provide additional grants and loans to small businesses in the hardest-hit industries, which include travel,” U.S. Travel Association President and Covid-19 pandemic Robert Dow said in a January 27 speech praising the stimulus package. “The Paycheck Protection Program is set to expire in March, but the economic hardships of the pandemic will persist, so it is important that struggling businesses continue to receive aid to maintain operations and keep workers on payrolls.”
Whether this legislation ultimately passes in its current form with bipartisan support remains uncertain. What is certain is that if Congress does nothing soon, more businesses will suffer.