Auditorium of the South Court

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

12:29 p.m. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I just had the opportunity to catch up with two small business owners I met on the road over the past two weeks. And the first one was a very enterprising woman named Pilar Guzman Zavala, and she’s in Florida, in Miami. And Tim Eichinger, who’s in Wisconsin. They have different businesses and live in different places, but both shared the same message with me when I spoke to them on the road that small businesses in America are hurting and suffering badly, and they need help. now. And it’s in the best interests of all of us to make sure they get help now.

Small businesses are the engines of our economic progress; they are the glue and the heart and soul of our communities. But they get run over. Since the start of this pandemic, 400,000 small businesses have closed – 400,000 – and millions more are hanging by a thread.

It hurts black, Latin American and Asian communities the most. Walk down any main street and you see it: empty storefronts, farewell signs hanging from the windows. Maybe it was the pizzeria you took your family to for dinner or the hardware store that always had the tool you needed. It’s a mom-and-pop store that is sponsored by – that is supported by the community, and then, in turn, they support the community. They sponsor a Little League team; the barber shop with the first dollar bill he won is still stuck to the wall, with a picture of the kids who are now in college.

These small businesses – not the ones with 500 employees, but those small businesses that, with a handful of people, make up 90% of businesses in America. But when the paycheck protection program was introduced, many of these family businesses were sidelined by larger companies that jumped in front of the line.

And I want to be clear: the paycheck protection program is a bipartisan effort; Democrats and Republicans helped push it through. But Democrats and Republicans have also expressed concerns about its improvement. With their contribution, that’s what we do in our administration: improve it.

In the past month, we increased the share of funding for small businesses with less than 10 employees by almost 60%. For businesses in rural communities, the share of funding has increased by nearly 30% since we took office. And the share of finance distributed by banks that traditionally help minority-owned businesses has risen to over 40%.

And today, I’m announcing additional changes to the PPP program that will ensure that we take care of the mom-and-pop business even more than we already have. As I explained to Pilar and Tim – the two small businesses I spoke to on Wednesday – the Small Business Administration will be establishing an exclusive 14-day PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits. less than 20 employees. People can – can go out and find out how to get these – these loans. People can find out more at SBA.gov.

The Small Business Administration will also remove the barriers that have prevented many businesses from applying for these loans. For example, we make sure that a student loan default or unrelated criminal record does not prevent someone from applying for the program.

We also make it easier for one-person businesses, such as home repair contractors; beauticians; small independent retailers – to obtain repayable PPP loans.

At the same time, we are increasing access by increasing surveillance. I invite any inspector general of this program with jurisdiction over this program to take a close look at these loans and report – publicly report on any issues they find that contradict what I’m saying today. We will make sure every dollar is well spent. These changes will provide much needed and long overdue help to small businesses that really need help staying open, keeping jobs and making ends meet. And it is a starting point, not the ending point.

We need Congress to pass my US bailout. It deals with the immediate crisis facing our small businesses.

Now critics say the plan is too big. Let me ask them a rhetorical question: what would you like me to cut? What would you leave out? The US bailout is targeting $ 50 billion to support the small businesses hardest hit after the program expires at the end of March. Wouldn’t you help invest in them? Would you let them keep flowing? Would you leave them out again, as the previous administration did?

One of the things I’ve heard over and over again from small business owners like Pilar and Tim is that knowing the support is one thing; to be – to access to obtain it is another.

This is why we have proposed $ 175 million to bring community organizations to serve as “navigators” to help them in this application process.

We would also set up a hotline, with help available in multiple languages, so people could pick up a phone and get the help they need to stay open and serve their community.

Again, the critics: “It’s too big. Shouldn’t we – should we stop spending money on them? Don’t we want any ROI we make in these businesses to be able to stay open, thrive, and pay off?

Why wouldn’t we want to make sure that a small business, which lacks teams of lawyers, bankers and accountants, has a lawyer – someone to rely on – to ask for help who is there? for her now – will be there for her?

The American Rescue Plan is a rescue plan for small American businesses and large American businesses. And we need Congress to pass it right away. I am grateful to the Senate and the House for acting so quickly.

And I want to be clear: I’m ready to hear ideas on how to make the US bailout better and cheaper. But we need to make it clear who we are helping and who it would hurt.

I always try to help people like Tim and Pilar and all the small businesses across the country, and the families, workers, communities that depend on them to survive, recover and grow.

And it is my hope – my hope that as Democrats and Republicans, who have supported the PPP program – that Democrats and Republicans will support the US bailout. The vast majority of the American people – over 70 percent of the American people, including a majority of Republicans – want us to act on all the poll data, and to act big and fast.

Leading economists – left, right and center – here and abroad say we should focus on smart investments that can create jobs and focus on jobs and in people to avoid economic damage to long term to our nation and strengthen economic competitiveness in the future.

In fact, an analysis by Wall Street firm Moody’s estimates that if we adopt my US bailout, the economy will create 7 million jobs this year. This year.

We have also been in constant contact with mayors and governors, county officials, members of Congress from both parties in each state. This includes a letter, I might add, from over 400 mayors of large and small towns, Democrats and Republicans. They agree that we must act and act now. They understand that we are not going to get our economy back into shape and the millions of people back to work until we beat this virus.

Restoring our economy is bringing back our small businesses. And that’s what we’re going to do. This is what I am doing today. We will concentrate. The program ends at the end of March, but for the next two weeks the only people who can claim this PPP money are companies with less than 20 employees.

Thank you so much.

12:38 p.m. EST

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