WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority communities not only in healthcare but also the economy.
Congress has approved historic levels of funding to help small businesses survive, but minority-owned companies continue to have the most trouble accessing it.
“The closure rates for minority-owned businesses are significantly higher,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-OH, as she opened a House committee hearing on the topic Thursday.
Lawmakers approved $660 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep small businesses open, but Beatty said the PPP funds did not end up in enough minority-owned businesses.
“I have heard from many minority-owned businesses who did everything right yet they did not get a loan number or loan in the first round,” she said.
Jenell Ross, the owner of Bob Ross Auto Group in Ohio, told the committee she was eventually able to get PPP funds but worries what will happen when they run out.
“I still feel a heightened sense of uncertainty much like other women and minority-owned businesses of not knowing if we will be able to survive in the short term,” Ross said.
About $130 billion dollars remain in the program. Congress passed legislation to extend the application deadline through next month as lawmakers consider how to repurpose the leftover money.
Carmen Castillo, the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said they should prioritize minorities.
“If we fail to support our businesses, our economy will shrink by billions,” Castillo said.
Rep. Ann Wagner, R-MO, is also working on legislation to help companies calculate how much money they have to pay back.
“It is especially important for businesses that don’t have the resources to hire outside consultants to help them with the forgiveness process,” Wagner said.