David Dunn-Rankin

Thank you to all the readers of this paper who called or wrote your senator or congressman asking for help for our main street merchants. Many of our locally owned small business owners are struggling to survive because of the initial legally required shutdown. The current spike in coronavirus cases has made a bad situation worse. Many local businesses went backward in July, because so many of us are staying home.

We asked you all to write the folks in Washington, D.C., to help our locally owned small businesses in this round of funding. They heard you.

Sen. Marco Rubio responded, saying, “It is clear that financial damage from the pandemic will continue to impact small businesses even as the economy reopens. To meet these changing conditions, PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] and additional long-term recovery capital must be the priority for the next relief package. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the small business task force to reach a bipartisan agreement on a targeted, second round of PPP for underserved firms and for additional resources for long-term resiliency.”

Sen. Rick Scott’s office also is behind helping small businesses. “Sen. Scott is reviewing every option to make sure those individuals and small businesses hurt by the coronavirus are getting the help they need. But companies that haven’t been harmed at all by the coronavirus crisis should not have the ability to receive taxpayer-funded loans that can be forgiven – which takes money away from those that truly need it. That’s why Sen. Scott offered an amendment to prohibit businesses who have not seen a downturn in their revenues due to COVID-19 from being eligible for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and he was disappointed it wasn’t included in the extension.” 

D-R Media has newspapers covering communities up and down the central spine of the state, U.S. 27 and U.S.17, from Lake Placid to Mount Dora. We also asked your congressman in each of our communities for their comments on the need for additional small business support.

Congressman Ross Spano, who represents Lakeland, northern Polk County and parts of Lake County including the Four Corners area, sponsored a bill to try and make money available for Chambers of Commerce and expects to be, “at the forefront of fighting for small business as saving jobs = saving lives.”

Congressman Greg Steube, who represents Highlands County, responded with the following: “The legislation you are referencing is currently in the U.S. Senate, but Rep. Steube will consider the bill should a companion come before the House for a vote.”

Congressman Daniel Webster, who represents Sumter and Lake county areas including The Villages and Leesburg, responded as follows: “As a small business owner for many years, Rep. Webster understands many of the challenges business owners are facing every day.  This proposal could be helpful to these small businesses as they continue to try to survive the pandemic – he and staff are reviewing and discussing the bill with constituents.”

We also reached out to Congressman Michael Waltz, who represents part of northeast Lake County, including Mount Dora. Waltz, whose Washington, D.C., office is closed due to COVID-19, did not respond to email or voice messages.

The current proposal by Senate Republicans would assist only small businesses that are down more than 50% in revenue compared to last year. We think that too stringent.

Allow businesses that are down 20% compared to last year to also apply. Require any business that takes PPP money during this or the prior round to return all the profits that business makes in 2020 up to the amount of PPP taken. Businesses should get a hand up, not a handout.

Thank you all for writing your representatives. We encourage you to write them again, asking for support for our local small businesses who have been devastated, through no fault of their own.

Senator Marco Rubio: 284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510; (202) 224-3041; http://www.rubio.senate.gov

Senator Rick Scott: 716 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510; (202) 224-5274; http://www.rickscott.senate.gov

Representative Ross Spano, District 15: (202) 225-1252; https://spano.house.gov

Representative Michael Waltz, District 6: (202) 225-2706; https://waltz.house.gov

Representative Daniel Webster, District 11: (202) 225-1002; https://webster.house.gov