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The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) has joined with a coalition led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling on the U.S. Senate to extend the deadline for the small business assistance applications program known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Ben Cardin and Rand Paul, the business groups say that extending the application deadline until Dec. 31will allow more aid to reach businesses that need it the most. Congress created the PPP through the passage of the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). In the past 12 months, more than 5 million small businesses received PPP loans. The aid allowed between 1.4 and 3.2 million employees to stay on payroll, even when their employers were forced to close their doors.

“Despite the breadth of this emergency aid, small businesses continue to struggle, especially black and brown-owned businesses,” said Steve Japinga, vice president of public affairs, LRCC. “Extending the PPP deadline through the end of this year will ensure that the segment of small businesses facing the greatest obstacles does not get left behind.”

The coalition letter to the U.S. Senate goes on to say, “Survey data show that 66% of minority- owned small businesses fear permanent closure due to the pandemic compared to 57% of non- minority-owned firms. The same report shows that minorities have a more challenging time accessing the capital needed to keep their businesses open. More recent data show that neighborhoods with a higher concentration of minority-owned businesses are experiencing higher business closure rates (36%) than businesses in non-minority communities (22%).

Legislation enacted last December helped target aid to small businesses that need help the most, and the American Rescue Plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week goes even further by providing targeted assistance for the restaurant industry and shuttered venues and by directing outreach and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities where minority-owned businesses are struggling.

The letter goes on to say, “we continue to need your help to ensure that Main Street emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic in a position of strength that bolsters America’s recovery.”