You love your favorite restaurant across the street, the great “bed and breakfast” near the beach, and the quaint shop around the corner. So, you should be paying attention to the stimulus package (the CARES Act) currently stalled in Congress. The future of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of small businesses is at stake, and you need to join me in telling your Representatives and Senators to pass this bill now.
To set the stage, I’m a serial entrepreneur and a small business lender. I have started several companies and built two that have reached the INC. 500, Best Places to Work and beyond. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of government bailouts, but these are truly unprecedented times, making all past recessionary periods for anyone alive today, pale by comparison. Hundreds of thousands of businesses saw their customer bases disappear overnight. People are only buying essentials. No one is flying or renting hotel rooms, and you can’t visit concert halls, local shops or the gym. With all due respect to New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak is Main Street, USA. And not less than millions of jobs are at stake, as well as the future of our great nation.
Yet there’s hope. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a successful and bi-partisan loan program that can be activated fairly quickly, putting money in the hands of struggling entrepreneurs, hoteliers and restaurateurs, so they can make payroll for several months, offer benefits to their employees, pay rent and other payables. In the stimulus package, the lending authority for this program (known as the 7(a)) has been dramatically increased by hundreds of billions of dollars, and it can’t come soon enough.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and I have spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs who are despondent about their companies. Great business models, fascinating niche businesses and classic “mom and pops” all around the country have gone from having the best year of their life to zero sales. If you want to see an example from your neighborhood, just look out the window. Some small companies have enough capital to last a few weeks, but no business can survive very long without sales. Even a hardened capitalist, like me, can’t sit idly by and watch small businesses get throttled due to no fault of their own. Again, Congress needs to pass this bill.
I have worked with small business owners for over 20 years and financed thousands of them with SBA loans. So, yes, I have a self-interest in this – but I’m a patriot first. The economic fallout from this pandemic is so much bigger than any one company. I have been discussing the SBA loan provisions with members of Congress, trade groups and lobbyists since early last week. I have offered guidance – “inside baseball” mechanics – on how to radically streamline the process so that we can get money to small business owners faster than ever before.
Once approved, the bill will enable SBA participating banks, credit unions and nonbank lenders to jump into action. At our company, we have a team of patriots who’ve been mobilizing the past ten days for this. We’re ready to be unleashed and realize we can literally help save thousands of small businesses and likely millions of jobs. Which ones? Again, look out the window.
Please urge your Representatives and Senators to pass this bill today