Town hall request helps lead to ensuring “mom and pop” firms don’t get outmuscled for coronavirus aid.
When President Joe Biden announced Monday that the smallest American businesses were about to get a special, exclusive enrollment period to apply for coronavirus aid, his White House remarks opened with a shout-out to the owner of a small brewery in Milwaukee who called attention to that need.
Tim Eichinger, owner of Black Husky Brewing, was among those who were able to ask Biden a question during the president’s Feb. 16 CNN town hall in Milwaukee. Eichinger said his business fell 50% in the pandemic and that he was able to keep the brewery afloat through loans, grants, and his own savings. But he said small businesses need more help.
“What will you do to make sure small, mom and pop businesses like ours will survive over large corporate entities?” Eichinger asked during the town hall.
Biden responded by saying he would change federal aid programs “drastically” and make sure small businesses could get funding to make investments that will let them open and operate safely during the pandemic.
Biden on Monday announced the Small Business Administration will open a two-week Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan window from Wednesday through March 10 exclusively for businesses like Eichinger’s that have fewer than 20 employees. Biden, during remarks delivered at the White House, said he spoke with Eichinger and Pilar Guzman Zavala, a Florida business owner, to personally tell them about the new PPP window.
“One of the things I’ve heard again and again from small-business owners like Pilar and Tim is that knowing about support is one thing; gaining access to getting it is another,” Biden said.
The PPP loan program under former President Donald Trump faced intense scrutiny when it was discovered that large corporations, including three publicly traded companies in Wisconsin, had received loans while many small businesses got left out. Under Trump, businesses with up to 500 employees were eligible.
Biden pledged the new round of PPP loans will have increased oversight to make sure the loans are truly going to small businesses that need it.
“We will ensure every dollar is spent well,” Biden said.
Eight state legislators, six Republicans and two Democrats, received PPP loans for their or their families’ business ranging from $18,000 to $298,000, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis. US Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Town of Vermont) also received a $44,500 PPP loan, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Eichinger could not immediately be reached by phone at the brewery Monday afternoon.