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Florida small businesses call on policymakers to support Main Street
The COVID-19 pandemic has left Florida 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. If we are to recover from the loss of profits and business we faced during stay at home orders, we need your help.
Small businesses like ours are essential to Florida’s economy. We make up 99.8% of businesses in Florida and employ 41.6% of the workforce, but we don’t have the resources that large corporations do to bounce back from financial hardship so quickly. This is why Florida small business owners need legislators to form clear plans of action to rebuild after the damages that have been done.
In order for our businesses and our economy to survive this prolonged crisis, small business owners need three things: increased access to capital including grant assistance, funding for small business resource centers and an expanded Medicaid program that helps cover self-employed business owners and small business employees during this difficult time.
Access to capital is an ongoing issue for small business owners. Having faced so many losses, we need the state to provide stricter regulations on predatory lending, easily accessible low-interest loans and cash grants that can help us get 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 Florida’s Medicaid program could insure an additional 870,000 Floridians and bring in an additional $14.3 billion in federal funding over the next five years. This funding would be one of the most rapid, proven-effective ways to deliver fiscal relief to Florida's economy during this economic downturn. Medicaid expansion has proven successful in 37 other states and it’s about time Florida did the same.
We urge you to act now to provide these important policy solutions to support Florida’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.