Georgia small businesses call on policymakers to support Main Street
The COVID-19 pandemic has left Georgia small businesses reeling, with many of us unable to re-open or re-hire employees. For months, we have barely scraped by paying rent on buildings we could not occupy, supporting employees even though we didn’t know when our revenue might return and counting on our communities’ support when we should have been able to count on our government’s. We don’t have the resources that large corporations do to bounce back from financial hardship so quickly. Small businesses are essential to Georgia’s economy, but if we are to recover from the loss of profits and business we faced during the stay at home order, we need your help.
Small businesses make up 99.6% of businesses in Georgia and employ 43% of the workforce.
Despite being the first state to start reopening for business, Georgia jobs are not coming back as expected. COVID-19 has left Georgia’s economy in disrepair and simply allowing businesses to re-open will not be enough to fix the damages that have been done.
If the economy is to recover, small business owners need three things: increased access to capital including grant assistance, funding for small business resource centers and Medicaid expansion.
Access to capital is an ongoing issue for small business owners. Having faced so many losses, we need stricter regulations on predatory lending, easily accessible low-interest loans and cash grants that can help us back on our feet.
Additionally, small business development centers and other business resource centers need increased funding to deal with the influx of small business owners in need of guidance and support, especially those of us who have been forced to shift our entire business model.
Finally, low-income small business owners and employees are some of the most vulnerable people in our healthcare system. The price of healthcare for small businesses is a massive burden, yet this year we have seen how incredibly important it is to have coverage. Closing the coverage gap by expanding Georgia’s Medicaid program could create 56,000 jobs each year and boost the state’s economy by $6.5 billion annually. Medicaid expansion has proven successful in 37 other states and it’s about time Georgia did the same.
We urge you to act now to provide these important policy solutions to support Georgia’s small businesses. This is the only way to ensure our businesses and our state’s economy can survive the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19.