Coronavirus impact on small business in the U.S. could be ‘catastrophic,’ more than 100 CEOs warn

More than 100 current and former CEOs and other major business leaders are urging Congress to pass a relief bill for small businesses, warning of “catastrophic” consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders and spearheaded by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, CEOs warned of a “domino effect” on goods and services.

“By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon,” they wrote. “Tens of millions of Americans have already lost their jobs in this pandemic. Allowing small businesses to fail will turn temporary job losses into permanent ones. 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.”

“To survive until a vaccine is widely available, millions of small businesses will require longer-term support from the federal government,” they wrote.

They also urged for legislation to be passed similar to the bipartisan RESTART Act proposed by Sens. Michael Bennet and Todd Young. The measure would give more flexibility to businesses who got Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. PPP gives loans to small businesses in order to keep workers employed who would have otherwise lost their jobs.

Those who signed the letter include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donahue, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Under the HEALS Act, the second coronavirus relief package introduced by Senate Republicans last week, a sequel to PPP would give loans to businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

The new legislation would also provide small businesses with additional provisions, including plexiglass and more outdoor seating during the pandemic, according to Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.

survey from the National Federation of Independent Business found that 92 percent of small businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Among those who were negatively impacted, 80 percent said they had slower sales, 31 percent had disruptions in supply chain, and 23 percent had concerns due to sick workers.

This survey was conducted on March 30 with a random sample of around 300,000 small business owners and received 1,172 usable responses.

Around 30 million Americans are getting unemployment payments as the pandemic shutters businesses and people lose their jobs, The New York Times reported.

The $600-a-week unemployment benefits under the CARES Act expired on July 31.

The HEALS Act will replace 70 percent of what someone made before getting laid off instead of giving $600 a week, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa.


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