On Wednesday, May 27, Axios Business Editor Dan Primack and Markets Reporter Courtenay Brown hosted a conversation on the future of small businesses with the owner and head chef of D.C.-based restaurant Kith and Kin Kwame Onwuachi and the author and co-owner of Parnassus Books Ann Patchett.

Onwuachi highlighted the limitations of the PPP loan for businesses and called for a restaurant stabilization fund to support workers and business owners in the service industry.

  • On the PPP loan: "It's a small Band-Aid on a large problem...And we need something to help [restaurants] restabilize. There's going to be a lot of costs that we're going to be incurring for reopening."
  • On access to PPP for restaurants run by immigrants or people of color: "They don't have those same relationships with their bankers and their accountants and their finance people in order to access those funds. Their names weren't put at the top of the list."

Patchett discussed how Parnassus Books has adapted to the current safety measures and how they're keeping customers and workers safe.

  • On reopening: "I don't think it's a gut thing [of when to decide to reopen], I think it's a science thing...It doesn't make any sense to be the leader in opening up a store where we could make our staff and our customers sick."
  • On how the bookstore model might change: "I think that if we have vaccines, we're going to be very much the same... [but] we do a lot of our business at big events. So that's really going to be the question. Are we going to be able to have those big author events?"

In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with head of Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group Margaret Anadu about how small businesses can get financial support during this economically turbulent time. Anadu highlighted Goldman Sachs loan data that shows that African American business owners have not been able to apply for PPP loans at the same rate as other businesses.

  • "A lot of those disparities...did not materialize overnight. They're not specifically and only related to the pandemic we're currently in, but they really shine a light on the disparities that have been in these communities for a long time."

Thank you Goldman Sachs for sponsoring this event.

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