If more PPP money is coming, how can the Senate make sure minority-owned businesses benefit?
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Senate Republicans did not roll out their trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill Thursday, as expected. It’s been delayed until next week.
They have said they want funding for more Paycheck Protection Program loans. Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer is watching that story. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with host Sabri Ben-Achour.
Sabri Ben-Achour: One of the many things the Senate’s been considering is another round of PPP loans, in particular how minority-owned businesses might benefit?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Right. The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee held a hearing on that Thursday. There are some obstacles for minority-owned businesses that apply for PPP loans.
Fabiana Estrada was one of the witnesses at the hearing. She’s with Accion, a nonprofit group that helps minority-owned businesses with banking. She told me that a lot of the business owners they work with are confused about how the PPP loans work.
Fabiana Estrada: Every time we were trying to explain the process – I could tell you, there was really a lot of pain behind every little request of some money.
Ben-Achour: So what can be done to address that confusion?
Marshall-Genzer: Estrada says there should be straightforward rules on how to apply for PPP loans. She says some minority business owners weren’t sure whether PPP money was a grant or loan. She also said the terms of repayment should be clearer.
Ben-Achour: How could the government make things easier to understand?
Marshall-Genzer: Estrada says the Small Business Administration could provide training for people like her, those who work for nonprofits advising small businesses trying to get PPP loans. And she says this clarity she’s asking for wouldn’t just help minority-owned businesses. It would be useful for any company trying to get a PPP loan.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?
It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.
How are Americans spending their money these days?
Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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