Will ethnic small businesses catch the boom--or be left behind

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

The U.S. economy is greatly bolstered by 32 million small businesses, which contribute almost half of the nation’s annual GDP, and create 1.5 million jobs per year. The U.S. is home to more than four million minority-owned companies in the United States, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion. As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many small enterprises had to rapidly reshuffle their business models. 200,000 businesses permanently shut down. Speakers discussed how mom-and-pop Main Street America can emerge from this crisis at the EMS briefing on May 28.

The PPP was launched as part of the $2.2-trillion economic relief measures that then-President Trump signed into law in March 2020, during the first pandemic surge. It was conceived as a novel effort to minimize layoffs and help small businesses stay afloat with low-interest loans that could be forgiven entirely if borrowers met certain conditions involving retaining employees

Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry, a minority-led entity that helped thousands of small businesses secure loans through the Paycheck Protection Program provided an overview of the pandemic’s impact on minority-owned small businesses and private-enterprise strategies to aid small business revival.

“Most of the small businesses were already a bit bad before the pandemic, this pandemic only worsened the situation and showed that many of our small businesses lack the infrastructure and knowledge to have the proper documents and this has expanded this serious situation”, explains Sands. He pointed to the data collected last year, some small businesses across the United States closed in April 2020. Among them, 41% were African-American businesses, 32% were Hispanic businesses, and Asian-American small businesses accounted for 26%. In the event of bankruptcy, small businesses have two choices: continue to find a job or start a new business. So in the next few years, we will see more small businesses return.

Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California. Rep. Khanna, a member of the Congressional Small Business Caucus, spoke on the challenges of reopening Main Street America, whether the PPP loan program was sufficient to get small business owners back on their feet, and what’s next in the Congressional pipeline for additional support. Congressman Ro said he plans to continue creating the necessary mechanisms to continue supporting this important economic sector in the country: “it is good news that small businesses have survived so far, there is a growth of 10 percent and I think we are going to have a good recovery”. He added that the upcoming national infrastructure construction projects will ensure that more small businesses benefit and increase employment opportunities for small businesses.