COVID-19

If more PPP money is coming, how can the Senate make sure minority-owned businesses benefit?

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Jul 24, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Fabiana Estrada of Accion says a lot of the minority business owners she's worked with are confused about how the PPP loans work. Kanawa_Studio via Getty Images
COVID-19

If more PPP money is coming, how can the Senate make sure minority-owned businesses benefit?

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Jul 24, 2020
Fabiana Estrada of Accion says a lot of the minority business owners she's worked with are confused about how the PPP loans work. Kanawa_Studio via Getty Images
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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

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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