A weekend snap survey of Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform’s small business network found Main Street entrepreneurs, while hurting and eager for financial help, believe government’s top priority should be focusing on stopping the spread of COVID-19 rather than rushing to reopen the economy, and place far more trust in scientists and health professionals than the president or state and local governments to make the call on when to reopen.
The survey, fielded from April 17-20 with more than 530 small business respondents, found:
- 58% of small business owners currently do not think it is a good idea to reopen the economy for business on May 1
- 64% think the government’s top priority should be stopping the spread of the coronavirus while 33% believe it should be opening the economy
- 71% say they trust scientists and healthcare professionals most to say when it’s safe to stop social distancing and begin reopening the economy, 15% trust the president, and 13% trust state governors and local governments
- 44% of respondents said they have had to close their businesses due to COVDI-19 and 51% of those feel very or somewhat unsafe about opening their business on May 1 from the standpoint of the health and safety of their employees, their customers and themselves
“Small business owners are hurting from the economic fallout of COVID-19, but they are clearly more worried about getting this pandemic under control than a wholesale opening up of the economy on an artificial deadline,” said Frank Knapp, Jr., co-chair of Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately, small business owners are accustomed to being used as political pawns so it’s not surprising that, when given a choice, they are placing their trust in experts rather than politicians seeking to gain an electoral edge when it comes to something as vital as the health and safety of their employees, their customers and themselves.”
In addition, 68% of survey respondents reported applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan before funding for the $350 billion program to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis ran dry last week. Just 28% reported getting their loan approved. Only 15% of the small business owners who said they have been approved for a PPP loan have received the money.
Seventy-four percent of respondents have 10 or fewer employees.
“The botched rollout of the PPP loan program is having real consequences for our Main Street employers. We’ve seen too many examples of large companies claiming millions while most of our mom and pop business owners are left out in the cold. That falls on the Administration, which failed to write rules around the program to ensure real small businesses had a shot at the loans they need to survive this crisis,” Knapp said. “More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment. We need to do better for Main Street or those numbers will continue to climb and businesses will shutter forever.”