Congress Throws Lifeline to Small Businesses, But Fight for Main Streets Continues into New Year


December 22, 2020 | Congress Throws Lifeline to Small Businesses, But Fight for Main Streets Continues into New Year | By: Patrice Frey, President & CEO, NMSC | 

Dear Main Street America Network,

Last night both houses of Congress passed the Coronavirus Response And Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, ending a months-long stalemate in Congressional response to the pandemic. While provisions of the legislation will offer short-term relief to both businesses and Main Street programs, our specific $100M proposal to support Main Streets through a competitive grant program was not included. We will continue the fight for federal funding for Main Street programs in 2021.

Immediate relief for small businesses is essential. Our most recent small business surveys indicated that the vast majority (88%) of small businesses are at risk of closure, with 29% anticipating closing their doors within three months without additional Congressional support. The package passed yesterday will offer a lifeline to businesses through the winter. Specific highlights of importance to Main Street programs and small businesses include:

  • The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, which includes $285 billion to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and offer additional targeted relief to certain businesses, including:
    • Eligibility for PPP loans for 501(c)6 organizations and Destination Marketing Organizations.
    • Second draws of PPP loans for small businesses and non-profits demonstrating a 25% reduction in revenue to a comparable quarter in 2019.
    • Streamlined forgiveness for loans under $150,000.
    • Expanded eligibility of COVID-19-specific expenses for forgiveness, including outdoor seating, drive-thru windows, and PPE.
    • Dedicated $15 billion for grants to live music and entertainment venues.
  • The establishment of the Emergency Capital Investment Fund, which provides $12 billion to Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) to provide investments in low to moderate income and minority communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The full package may have many other provisions relevant to you, your families, and your communities, including direct payments to Americans and the continuation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

While are pleased to see the passage of yesterday's relief package, we know that this targeted response is only one step in meeting the needs of our businesses and communities. This bill did not include key provisions for COVID recovery, including funding for state and local needs, funding for the Economic Development Administration, and our request for $100M specifically to support our Main Street programs.

Over the past nine months, we have worked hard to elevate the needs of both small businesses and Main Street programs through research and advocacy. In 2021, a new Congress and Administration are almost certain to turn their attention to long-term relief and recovery. We will continue to voice Main Street concerns to Congress and push for much needed federal support for Main Street programs.

I want to thank everyone across the network for your outreach in support of our advocacy efforts, as well as your support of your small businesses and communities at large. We will continue the fight for Main Street in the New Year!

I wish you all a safe and healthy holiday season.

Patrice Frey
President & CEO, NMSC