Black Experience

Congressional Leaders Call Emergency Meeting for Small Businesses Shut Out of Stimulus Program

Several Black-owned companies crippled by the coronavirus pandemic are demanding answers after being shut out of the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the $350 billion set aside for it.

The federal government funding mandate, spawned by assistance in alignment with the pandemic, was supposed to serve as an economic relief package for small businesses.

“Our businesses and nonprofits have suffered major losses in revenue and are just trying to survive. Others have been forced to close their doors,” said Sandra Pruitt, PFC Coalition executive director and PFC Black Chamber board member. “We are now calling for emergency assistance from Congressional leaders to keep black-owned companies from closing their doors.”

In letters dated April 22 and sent to Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Reps. Anthony Brown and Steny Hoyer, all Maryland Democrats, leaders for the coalition and chamber requested an emergency online meeting “to help our small businesses and nonprofits navigate the process, get technical assistance, and identify lenders to submit applications.”

Under the CARES Act, small businesses were defined as having 500 employees or less and could get a max of $10 million in funding. But with no safeguards in place, large companies received billions, and small companies who needed the funds were locked out.

“It’s unfortunate there was no protection in the CARES Act to ensure grants and loans reached smaller businesses who may have only needed $50,000-$100,000 to carry their payroll for a few months,” Pruitt said.

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