Aug 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

Scoop: Top CEOs urge Congress to help small businesses

A photo illustration of the Capitol.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With a new coronavirus relief measure stalled in Congress, CEOs of some of the world's biggest companies have banded together to send a message to Washington: Get money to small businesses now!

Why it matters: "By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon," warns the letter, organized by Howard Schultz and signed by more than 100 CEOs.

  • Signatories include the heads of Salesforce, Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft, Walmart, McDonald's, Disney, Quibi, IBM, Merck, Marriott, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more.

What's happening: The open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top lawmakers obtained first by Axios lays out a recipe for a sizable small-business aid package.

What they're saying: The project, Schultz's first big public push since he suspended his run for president, calls for "federally guaranteed loans, at favorable terms, that will enable small businesses to transform and sustain themselves."

  • "Businesses should have flexibility in how loan funds are used."
  • "The hardest-hit businesses should be eligible for at least partial loan forgiveness."
  • "Relief needs to be delivered expeditiously. Building on the existing PPP infrastructure would be one way to quickly stand up a new loan program."
  • "These funds must flow to all small businesses in need, particularly those run by people of color, who have traditionally had less access to capital."

Between the lines: Neither the House's HEROES Act nor the latest version of Senate Republicans' HEALS Act include significant funding for small businesses besides the PPP extension.

The last word: "Tens of millions of Americans have already lost their jobs in this pandemic. ... 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."

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