Small businesses have been devastated by the global outbreak of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, and are fighting to keep their doors open. This week U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, called for programs to do more for underserved communities.
Velázquez has joined forces with the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), National Restaurant Association, Illinois Restaurant Association, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) to speak out on access issues with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to marginalized communities—just.a day before the SBA announced that the program has run out of funds.
In a webcast, they urged for a more equitable implementation of the program featuring increased investment to vulnerable small businesses. Such additional dollars will be even more critical since the SBA had to stop accepting loan applications once the funds were exhausted.
“In these trying times, reaching traditionally underserved businesses in our federal relief efforts to COVID-19 is essential,” Velázquez said in a press statement. “That is why I will keep pressing for additional funding and commonsense reforms to strengthen federal relief efforts and ensure that all small businesses have the opportunity to secure capital and other resources that are key to a full and efficient recovery.”
Martin Eakes, president and CEO Self Help Credit Union, also joined the webcast to address the PPP’s emerging issues. “As the one of the largest CDFIs [Community Development Financial Institutions] in the country, our mission is to create and protect economic opportunity for all. Businesses of color are the backbone of the American economy, and many of them rely on CDFIs and other local, community banks to conduct their financial needs,” said Eakes.
“For the Paycheck Protection Program to be successful and benefit entrepreneurs and communities of color, and others who are traditionally shut out due to discriminatory banking practices, CDFIs must play an integral role in the implementation.”
The webcast included a Q&A section to address questions from attendees with others, including Renee Bender, Senior Professional Staff with the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee under Chairman Marco Rubio; Raul Raymundo, CEO of the Resurrection Project, a member organization of NPNA; and Melissa Jung, who serves as the Chief of Staff for Chairwoman Velázquez.
“We want to thank Congresswoman Velázquez and Senator Rubio for continuing to champion Paycheck Protection Program opportunities for the most vulnerable businesses and institutions in our society,” Raymundo said.