Main Street Alliance: Biden speaks with small biz and workers in push for urgent COVID relief

Today, Milwaukee based restaurateur and Main Street Alliance member Dan Jacobs met virtually with President-elect Joe Biden and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss the urgent need for financial support for small businesses and American households.

Jacobs impressed upon the incoming President the dire need for grants based support to small businesses, particularly the restaurant industry that has been so hard hit and not served well by the previous loan programs.

“We as small business owners, like our workforce, cannot have the help come in the form of taking on more debt,” said Jacobs. “We need grant help and we need that grant help now.”

“We need to get help out the door as soon as we can. Americans like you need relief now,” said Biden during the roundtable. “But any package passed in this lame duck session, between now and January 21st at best is only going to be a downpayment.”

The delay in additional aid through the winter means Biden will likely be sworn in to a much bigger economic crisis than necessary. Biden has been encouraging federal lawmakers to come together during the lame duck session. Urgent relief cannot wait for a new administration, as small businesses could shutter by the hundreds of thousands before January. 

After a flurry of bills introduced yesterday, Executive Director of the Main Street Alliance Amanda Ballantyne encouraged policymakers to bring the bills together, while making very clear that any stopgap measures must be a bridge to a comprehensive plan that supports addressing the racial and economic disparities of the current programs, including grant programs to fill the gaps the PPP has created, expanding the paid leave and paid sick days provisions, and providing robust support for States to get the virus under control and distribute vaccines.

As mentioned by Biden during the conversation, much of the blocking of additional relief has come from Senator Mitch McConnell’s insistence of including provisions that shield corporations, rather than clear public health guidelines. In a survey done by Main Street Alliance, small businesses chose paid leave and paid sick days supports over corporate immunity by a 2 to 1 margin, making it clear this line in the sand is not for small businesses, but big corporations.

Jacobs simply asked the government to give small businesses the tools to succeed to get us back to do what we do best.

“Give me the ability to tell my staff that it’s going to be ok,” he concluded.