Amy On The Issues
Saving South Jersey’s Small Businesses & Restaurants
Small and independent businesses are the backbone of our South Jersey community and they have been devastated by COVID-19. While vital, the emergency loan programs funded by Congress have not done enough. Nationally, roughly a quarter of businesses need additional assistance to survive the next three months, and the vast majority would consider applying for additional aid if Congress provided it. Unprecedented leadership, investment, and support is necessary for our independent
business community to survive and thrive.
In Congress, I will fight to foster a small business-led recovery, one that creates and protects jobs, wealth, and opportunity across our district.
The restaurant industry is vital to South Jersey’s economy. Nearly 7 percent of New Jersey workers were employed by restaurants and bars before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, thousands of workers have lost their jobs as independent restaurant and bars are forced to close their doors. The pandemic has had an especially devastating impact on restaurants in Shore communities, which are struggling to weather a reduced summer season while complying with dining restrictions and other public-safety rules.
The bipartisan Restaurants Act of 2020 will provide the emergency relief our restaurants need to survive the pandemic. The Act will create a Restaurant Stabilization Fund to help independent restaurants cover their operating costs, pay employees, or put new safety measures in place. These measures that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefits while saving millions of jobs nationwide. Without this investment, however, we could permanently lose 85 percent of our restaurants to COVID-19—an economic catastrophe Congress must immediately act to avoid.
Congress’ swift action earlier this year provided a lifeline to thousands of small businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans. But it has been weeks since Congress allowed the program to expire, leaving billions of dollars unallocated and many small businesses unaided. Moreover, many businesses that already received PPP loans may need additional relief due to the continued severity of the pandemic.
It is long past time that Congress act to provide the additional support small and independent businesses need to survive. First, Congress should extend, reform, and strengthen the PPP program, including by:
- Enacting an additional round of PPP funding and ensuring that PPP loans are generous enough to cover both payroll and other operating costs.
- Targeting loans to the very small businesses, independent contractors, and minority-owned businesses left out of the first round of loans.
- Allowing the worst-impacted businesses to receive a second round of loans.
- Helping small businesses navigate the loan-forgiveness process by immediately forgiving small loans under $150,000.
- Enacting the Small Business Expense Protection Act to clarify that small businesses can deduct from their taxes expenses paid with a PPP loan.
- Providing greater technical assistance to small businesses that lack the resources or expertise necessary to navigate complicated PPP rules.
Congress should also provide assistance to small businesses beyond the PPP program, including by:
- Helping states, cities, and counties provide emergency assistance to small businesses in their own communities. The bipartisan RELIEF for Main Street Act, for example, would create a new $50 billion fund that state and local governments can use to support very small businesses, especially those in rural and low-income communities.
- Providing tax relief to reward employers for retaining their employees. Congress should expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which it created in the last relief package to help hard-hit businesses retain their employees, including businesses that had to suspend operations due to COVID-19. The bipartisan JOBS Credit Act would ensure that businesses who received PPP can also receive this tax relief. It would also significantly increase the tax credit and make it easier for employers to qualify for it.
- Protecting small businesses from predatory lenders. The Truth in Lending Act protects consumers against inaccurate and unfair credit card and billing practices. These protections should be extended to small businesses to ensure access to fair and transparent credit markets as they recover from the pandemic.