By Chris Clark, President & CEO, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
As leaders begin discussions about reopening the economy, we know that it does not signal an end to the pandemic nor an abatement of the financial crisis for which we all face an inevitably long and rather costly recession. It is instead a call for the business community to engage and the government to prepare and consider additional action at the local, state and federal levels.
The anticipated “return to normal” isn’t likely as fiscal and medical experts assure us that we will continue to face waves of outbreaks and, with it, consistent economic instability. To readily survive this so-called new normal and emerge from it to be a thriving economy once again, America – as a nation of leaders, businesses, workers and citizens – must act now on four priorities.
First, Congress must provide additional resources for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), grants and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Current funding levels are almost exhausted and smaller companies are struggling through the paperwork only to find that no funds remain. Congress needs to streamline the programs and eliminate burdensome regulations that are forcing some main street businesses to simply walk away from the process. The next package should provide additional grants for firms with fewer than 50 employees and minority owned companies. Action should expand ‘forgivable expenses’ like equipment leases and investments while expediting fund transfers and unemployment benefits to struggling American employers and employees. Legislators should also work with the Federal Reserve to further backstop insurance, healthcare, banks and the real estate market as all are starting to see cracks in their foundations.
Second, Congress must begin earnest bipartisan work on a wider recovery bill that can move beyond saving jobs and jump-start a battered economy. Legislation focused on the New American Economy would spur the modernization of our workforce through new education models, legal immigration reform and upskilling programs. Efforts would open more foreign markets to fair U.S. trade for farmers, small business and manufacturers. President Trump’s plan for infrastructure investment should be fast tracked to include roads, airports, bridges, rail, ports and next generation infrastructure connectivity like 5G, cyber security and broadband. Congress should use this as an opportunity to address long-term issues like investment in research and development, housing and healthcare through block grants and public private partnerships. Taken together, these efforts would infuse capital, restore consumer confidence and build a stronger, future-focused economy.
*The Georgia Chamber seeks to provide access to recommendations, regulations, services and expertise to its members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this mission remains constant. Prior to acting, members should consult their own professional advisors for information and counsel specific to the individual and unique situations faced by organizations, individuals and corporations. The opinions, interpretations and recommendations of the Georgia Chamber are informational only and should not be relied upon by the recipient as legal or professional advice. The Georgia Chamber makes no representations as to the accuracy or reliability of the content contained herein. Users of this information accept any and all risks associated with the use of such information and agree that the Georgia Chamber has no liability to user.