The first round of the much needed federal stimulus for small businesses known as Paycheck Prevention Program (PPP) left much do be desired. The information changed constantly, lenders were not well informed or prepared, and large companies, chains, and connected firms (Washington DC) received much of the revenue leaving the small businesses who are struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic out to dry. To add insult to injury the allocated $349 billion fan out within days. To that end, Congress is hard at work passing a new round of small business relief. The new $484 billion package includes:
- $310 billion for the Paycheck Prevention Program
- $60 billion for community banks and smaller lenders
- $75 billion for hospitals
- $25 billion for testing
- $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants
The oversight this time around must be more robust. It is unconscionable that tax-payer money, desperately needed by so many beloved neighborhood establishments did not go where it needed. It also seems like there are not enough funds allocated to testing. Only through robust testing and tracking will we be able to reopen the economy and get these small businesses back up and running.
Small business owners in New York City also need to be aware of a package of bills introduced by the City Council:
- During the current state of emergency, businesses with more than 100 employees to pay hourly workers a $30 bonus for a shift under four hours, $60 for a shift of four to eight hours and $75 for any shift over eight hours
- Forbid essential workers from being fired without just cause
- Impose fines of $2,000 to $10,000 against landlords for harassing essential workers, laid off and sick New Yorkers
- Extend paid sick leave to independent contractors who were not covered by the paid sick leave bill passed by the state legislation
- Require officials to rework up to 75 miles of city streets to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists (more on this in another article)
- Mandates City Hall provide each homeless New Yorker with a private room (likely in empty hotels) to slow the coronavirus’s spread in crowded shelters
In response the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement:
“Most small businesses in New York City are on the brink of collapse with little to no revenue coming in. Indeed, most businesses are not even thinking about profitability right now because they are consumed with concerns about their viability. But, in an unbelievable move, Speaker Corey Johnson and the New York City Council are introducing two bills today that could accelerate their demise.
One bill (Intro. 1923) would force essential businesses to retain employees during the pandemic unless there are narrowly-defined “just cause” reasons; otherwise, business owners must enter time-consuming legal arbitration in order to justify layoffs.
The other bill (Intro. 1918) would force businesses with 100 or more employees to pay each hourly worker a premium of between $40-$75 per shift during the pandemic, which is above and beyond their usual pay.
These bills show a huge disconnect with our current realities, as they attack the very small businesses that are collectively the biggest source of jobs and which we are all relying on to lead the city’s economic recovery.
Few businesses, including small and medium-sized businesses, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations, are in a position to adhere to these new laws without significant financial assistance from the city government.
We urge Speaker Johnson and the City Council to either reject these harmful bills outright or pledge to fully fund the new laws they implement during this unprecedented crisis that would cause more pain to businesses.”