A longtime entrepreneurship advocate, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wants to make $6 billion usable for small businesses trying to survive and rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, the bill introduced by Cardin in the Senate would set up the Hard-Hit Small Business Relief Fund. It would shift the remaining funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 relief programs to make grants to eligible small businesses determined by the SBA.
Businesses would have to show proof of major losses over the past two years tied to COVID.
“Our communities have regained a hard-earned sense of normalcy after the worst of COVID-19, but for many small businesses, the nightmare continues,” Cardin stated. “American small businesses are still struggling under unsustainable debt, ongoing supply chain delays, and workforce challenges that inhibit their ability to operate and grow their businesses. The Hard-Hit Small Business Relief Fund Act would make the approximately $6 billion in unused federal COVID-19 small business aid available to the small businesses that need help the most.”
Cardin is chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.
His bill gives the SBA the power to define eligibility. Yet it clarifies that sole proprietorships, independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and tribally-owned small businesses are eligible Many Black businesses fall into those categories. The bill also mandates the SBA to track and report all grants publicly and organize an auditing process to ensure the program is run transparently.
Many small businesses, including Black-owned ones, are dealing with the lingering effects of the pandemic and 40-year high inflation. A survey in April 2022 showed roughly 40% of U.S. small businesses are planning to boost prices by 10% or higher to help counteract surging operating costs.
Another survey revealed 75% of small business owners are witnessing hikes in the cost of their supplies. That is potentially forcing them to make a tough decision rather to keep prices where they at make less profit or boost prices and possibly deal with lower sales.
Additionally, some 41% percent of Black small business owners are more likely than the average 32% of small business owners to seek additional financing to address challenges their business faces.
The data are striking as minority entrepreneurs frequently don’t apply for small business loans due to fear of rejection or they will get lower amounts and higher interest rates if approved.
The finding was shared in May 2022 with BLACK ENTERPRISE by JPMorgan Chase. The bank’s Small Business Pulse Survey polled 1,000 small business owners to learn about their financial and strategic business priorities and how the firms are doing after two challenging years of economic uncertainty.
The report surveyed 150 Black small business owners. Response reflects the findings of those respondents, but not all Black SBOs in the overall survey.