Column: Small businesses need more relief from Congress

Susan J. Demas

Small businesses across the country have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. Business owners and their employees are in an economic freefall, suffering major damage due to closure or business interruptions or reductions and unprecedented challenges as our leaders take steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. 

At the end of March, Congress passed the CARES Act. This $2 trillion stimulus package provided monetary assistance to a limited number of individuals and small businesses who have been hurt by COVID-19-related layoffs and business closures. 

However, the initial CARES Act did little to stop the decline of our nation’s economy. It was either very late in reaching small businesses or altogether inaccessible by many entrepreneurs and small business owners. In Michigan, additional support is needed now to prevent more small businesses from closing and more workers from falling through the cracks. 

What we need right now are leaders at the state and national level to fight for the people and businesses of Michigan. We must get relief right to set us up for a good recovery.

Susan J. Demas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been a strong advocate for business owners across Michigan and the people who have powered our state’s comeback and understands the hit our local businesses and economy will continue to take if we don’t get the resources we need from the federal government. 

To ensure Michiganders are supported during this difficult time, Whitmer has worked tirelessly to ensure everyone has the resources they need, including extending unemployment benefits for Michigan workers and helping to secure forgivable loans for small businesses during this crisis. We applaud these actions, but more is urgently needed from the federal government. 

We urge Whitmer and our congressional delegation to fight for more stimulus funds to provide relief to Michigan businesses and workers. Congress and President Trump need to put aside political infighting and work quickly to help the communities they were elected to represent. 

A second stimulus is absolutely necessary in order for businesses to survive and ensure Michiganders can pay their bills. 

Updated: Trump signs behemoth $2T COVID-19 response bill

To better protect Michigan workers and businesses, we need the federal government to:

  • Expand federal unemployment benefits
  • Increase aid to local governments without restrictions so that our smaller cities, towns and counties are not left out
  • Fund the Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program
  • Increase the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program by at least $250 billion
  • Provide relief for 1099 contractors, self-employed and gig workers
  • Ensure relief is accessible to minority and women owned businesses, as well as small-scale and mid-sized farmers 

Small businesses are the heart of Michigan’s economy. We employ almost 50% of Michigan’s workers. We have weathered tough times before and will do it again. 

However, for us all to get through this particularly tough time, Michiganders need our leaders to push the federal government for more support and resources for our workers, businesses and communities — before it’s too late.