The White House and Congress continue negotiations on a $470 billion COVID-19 relief package aimed primarily at small businesses who were left out of the initial round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funding last week.
Across Queens, too many small businesses were bypassed by the application process as larger companies had stronger relationships with large banks and lending institutions, according to the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
“Queens is the most hard-working, vibrant, diverse county in America. Together, as a community, we are certain we will overcome this challenge,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “But right now, we need help from the federal government. To date, I have not spoken to a single small business that has gotten a single cent from the Paycheck Protection Program. This is unacceptable. Action needs to be taken now to save small businesses in Queens, and across the country.”
The government pledged $350 billion for neighborhood small businesses to get low-cost loans to keep their payrolls intact but too much went to publicly traded companies with thousands of employees instead of Main Street mom-and-pop operations.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of Queens, and communities across the country,” Grech said. “With unemployment reaching unprecedented levels, and business owners grappling with how to make payroll, pay rent and keep up with other expenses, the time to act is now. We don’t have a moment to waste with inaction or play partisan politics.”
Grech added that the new relief package must also contain additional funding not just for small businesses, but for state and local governments as well.
“We are already seeing the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have had on our city budget,” Grech said. “Businesses rely on essential services like police, fire and emergency response. If local governments can’t afford to adequately fund these services, there will be no economic recovery.”
Congressman Gregory Meeks said that the next round of funds should be allocated to assist the application process for very small businesses unfamiliar with the federal Small Business Administration which is running the PPP.
“We applaud Congressman Gregory Meeks and support his call for Congress to allocate another $350 billion for PPP and for greater transparency about how these funds are distributed,” Grech said. “The Queens Chamber looks forward to working with our leaders in Washington to deliver small businesses the support they need right away.”
The Queens Chamber of Commerce is the oldest and largest business association in Queens, representing more than 1,150 businesses and more than 100,000 borough-based employees.