The package includes measures for small business, which has been decimated by the pandemic.

Ralph Mercier, owner of Mercier’s Salon, pauses from hanging up snowflakes in the window of his business in downtown Calais, Maine.

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February 23, 2021 3 min read

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Some small business leaders and owners are calling for Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan.

Nearly 330 — including almost 30 leaders from different chambers of commerce — signed onto a letter organized by Invest in America and Small Business for America’s Future. They’re calling for the passage of the package, which includes several provisions for small businesses.

Small Business for America’s Future — “a national coalition of business owners and leaders working to provide small businesses a voice at every level of government” — conducted a survey of their network on COVID-19 relief and recovery. Of the 1,241 respondents, 69% of small business owners support the American Rescue Plan, and over one-third said that, without additional relief, they’ll be able to operate for just a few more months.

That push for additional relief comes amidst a continued grim period for small businesses. In December, the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ optimism index fell by 5.5 points to 95.9. As Insider’s Ben Winck reported, that was the lowest level since May — and lower than some economists expected.

Since January 2020, the number of small businesses open in the United States has decreased by 34.2%A Yelp report from September 2020 found that of the American businesses that had shut down by August 31 — a total of 163,735 — 60% won’t reopen. That’s 97,966 businesses gone. 

But the Paycheck Protection Program has offered some solace for small businesses during the pandemic; the surprisingly optimistic May jobs report seemed to show the impact the program had. A July study from the Federal Reserve and MIT found that PPP loans saved between 1.4 million and 3.2 million jobs.

Biden’s American Rescue Plan would include the continuation of PPP loans, along with $15 billion in grants to small business employers and $35 billion in low-interest loans. For the next two, PPP loans are currently only open to businesses with 20 employees or fewer.

Of the small business owners surveyed by Small Business for America’s Future, 60% said that they would primarily use any COVID relief funds to keep workers employed.

“Main Streets across the country need this lifeline — and they need it now. It’s the only way to prevent more businesses from closing and to keep millions of Americans on the job,” the letter from small business owners and leaders said. “The American Rescue Plan meets the urgency of the moment and takes the steps necessary to save small businesses struggling during these difficult times.”

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Roland Millaner

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