Leaders of some of the largest U.S. companies have called on Congress to include long-term support for small businesses in the next COVID-19 relief package to save them from potential financial ruin.
In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate, more than 100 executives said another round of the Paycheck Protection Program “would certainly be helpful” for many small businesses but “the hardest-hit sectors will need much more significant and sustained support” to weather the effects of the pandemic until a vaccine is widely available.
The PPP, which had paid out $518 billion in more than 4.9 million loans through July 17, expires Aug. 9.
“This is not a call for bottomless handouts,” the letter said. “It is a defining moment to show how capitalism can benefit all Americans, particularly entrepreneurs who have been forced to shutter or reduce the capacity of their business through no fault of their own.”
CEOs who signed the letter included Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Doug McMillon of Walmart, Sundar Pichai of Google, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, and Satya Nadella of Microsoft.
The next relief bill, they said, should provide federally guaranteed loans, at favorable terms, that “will enable small businesses to transform and sustain themselves through 2020 and 2021.”
“Support must last for longer than just the next two or three months” and small and mid-sized firms that have suffered significant revenue declines should be eligible for at least partial loan forgiveness, the letter said.
The bipartisan RESTART Act introduced by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Sen. Todd Young, Republican from Indiana, includes many of the same provisions, proposing a loan program to support small businesses for the remainder of 2020 and loan forgiveness as “a backstop against ongoing economic challenges.”
“Allowing small businesses to fail will turn temporary job losses into permanent ones,” the executives warned. “By year-end, the domino effect of lost jobs — as well as the lost services and lost products that small businesses provide — could be catastrophic.”