In my early twenties, I started a modest sandwich shop where I learned that even on good days, the margins are tight. The risk, sweat and stress that goes into starting, owning and operating a small business are so constant that one wonders what compels anyone to do it.
The answer can be found in our DNA as Americans.
By Kevin McCarthy
Special to CALmatters
Small businesses are a bedrock of American life, employing our friends, neighbors, and nearly half of California’s workforce. They aren’t just companies, they are cornerstones of our communities. And with the significant public health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, our state’s 4 million small businesses are being forced to make difficult decisions about how to keep their businesses afloat, their staff employed, and their rents or mortgages covered.
As we work to combat this public health threat together, it’s more evident than ever that the viability of our small businesses is critical to America’s families.
Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act providing $2 trillion to support our health care system, state and local governments, workers and businesses to overcome the health and economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically for small businesses, it created the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
The Paycheck Protection Program allows small business owners and qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations (having up to 500 employees or less) to access loans in the amount of 2.5 times average monthly payroll (and up to a maximum of $10 million) to be used for payroll continuity, rent and utilities assistance. If a business or nonprofit uses the loan to cover allowable payroll, rent and utilities expenses during the 8-week period that is covered by Paycheck Protection Program, their loan will be forgiven.
Most Importantly, This Program Will Run Through Local Banks, Not Government Bureaucracy
Responsive to an economy and workforce on the edge, the intent of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help small businesses and 501(c)3 nonprofits to retain their employees, so that they are able to pick back up where they left off, with government relief.
Also eligible for the program are independent contractors, gig economy workers and other self-employed individuals.
Most importantly, this program will run through local banks, not government bureaucracy. The Treasury Department recently-released guidance provides further information on how this program will work.
In addition to the Paycheck Protection Act that the CARES Act created, small businesses can also receive relief via Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, up to a maximum of $2 million. Both the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL program loans can be found on the SBA’s website.
California is the most culturally diverse state and is home to 1.5 million female-owned and 1.6 million minority-owned businesses. In order to ensure everyone is supported, the CARES Act provided $240 million in grants to SBA partners and $10 million in funding to the Minority Business Development Agency to ensure that companies of all types across the country can continue to succeed.
Though this pandemic has had far-reaching implications across all industries, Americans should feel reassured knowing that their government is working to address this unprecedented challenge and provide the resources they need to not only get through this uncertain time, but thrive on the other side of it.
About the Author
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, represents the 23rd Congressional District of California, to email the congressman, click here. McCarthy wrote this commentary for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.