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A customer of The Floral Craft. Photo by Chris Stone/Times of San Diego
New Economy

Congress Must Compromise to Save San Diego County’s Small Businesses

Some of the best laws passed by Congress in the past decades, on issues like Social Security, taxes and welfare, were the result of input from and compromise between the two parties. Now is time to put partisan politics aside and find compromise to help our small businesses.

As a member of the Save Small Business Coalition, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce has been feverishly working behind the scenes to truly have an impact on what happens in Congress to support our local business community.

We remain in contact with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, joining their coalition of over 100 CEOs across the country calling on Congress to do more to help small business.

It is increasingly likely that that not one of the many bills that had been introduced or moved by either the House or Senate is going to survive as written. Discussions now center around broad topics that are needed to be agreed upon by both sides. We are working to align with most attainable and effective items to help small businesses.

We have identified four areas that resonate within the various legislation. Our primary focus and goal remains to push for legislation that quickly and effectively provides the assistance needed for our small businesses. The following are the four key areas that we are working to champion.

Payroll Protection Program Reform

PPP reform is needed to include allowance for a larger percentage of operating expenses — including personal protection equipment and employee protection costs — in the forgivable expenses or an extension of the forgivable period from 24 weeks to 11 months.

We believe in good-faith certification for forgiveness of loans under $150,000. And PPP eligibility should be expanded to include 501(c)6 nonprofit organizations of 300 or fewer employees. A second round of PPP loans with authorization for an additional $190 billion would benefit our business community.

Workforce Development

Provide a total of $1.3 billion through a combination of new and existing programs, including $500 million for new state and local grant funding, $150 million under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for adults, $150 million in WIOA funding for dislocated workers, $150 million in WIOA funding for youth, and $350 million for employment services.

Business Liability Protection

Congress must act to protect businesses from liability if they follow applicable federal, state or local government guidelines related to COVID-19.

Healthcare workers and facilities are already protected from medical liability claims arising out of the provision of COVID-19 care or other care affected by COVID-19 with an exception for gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Aid for States and Local Municipalities

Aid should be provided on a quarterly basis based on actual costs and revenue shortfall with an overall cap on funding. Many localities require additional funding beyond what was provided in the CARES act to address increased costs and losses in revenue. The funding to local communities needs to be direct and flexible.

Business support does not need to be — and should not be — a partisan issue. It’s time to get things done. This is not a comprehensive list but rather are the primary focus areas that both parties should be agreeable to and that will help accomplish our goal to provide meaningful support to small businesses across the country and here in North San Diego County.

It is incumbent upon both parties to work together to fund meaningful support to our businesses, our communities, and our people.

This commentary was republished with permission from Times of San Diego.

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About the Author

Scott Ashton

Scott Ashton is the CEO of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at helpsmallbusinessesnow.com.

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