by Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

The White House recently released a fact sheet on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, noting that millions of main street small businesses are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

The White House “especially noted” the struggles of Black- and Brown-owned businesses. Without additional government assistance, these challenges could worsen in the months ahead and the national vaccination program would be hobbled, administration officials noted.

The American Rescue Plan will change the course of the pandemic, deliver immediate relief for small businesses and American workers, and build a bridge towards economic recovery.

Many Americans already have received a $1,400 stimulus check, making good on President Biden’s pre-inaugural promise of $2,000 payments – Americans received $600 in the weeks prior to the new administration.

The White House fact sheet noted full support for small businesses through the current crisis. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, 400,000 small businesses have closed and millions more are hanging by a thread,” the administration offered in the fact sheet.

“President Biden’s plan will provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe,” the statement continued.

Further, the American Rescue Plan will:

• Deploy community navigators to increase awareness of the participation in COVID-19 relief programs for small business owners who currently lack access, especially under-served entrepreneurs without banking relationships, lawyers, accountants, and consultants.

• Allocate $15 billion in flexible grants to help the smallest, most severely impacted businesses persevere through the pandemic.

• Provide $28 billion for a new grant program to support hard-hit small restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.

• Bolster the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and nonprofits that were previously excluded.

• Devote an additional $1.25 billion in funding to support live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives that are struggling to make ends meet.

• Invest $10 billion in successful state, local, and tribal small business financing programs to help small businesses innovate, create and maintain jobs, and provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.

• Help small businesses rehire and retain workers by extending the employee retention credit through the end of 2021.

In addition to providing direct relief to hard hit small businesses, the American Rescue Plan will bolster a whole-of-government COVID-19 response that will change the course of the public health crisis, administration officials wrote in the fact sheet.

In all, Louisiana is expected to receive just over $3 billion in relief; and New Orleans is set to receive $375 million, which is among the nation’s largest share of funding for a city of New Orleans’ size.

In a statement updating residents about the impact and timeline of the American Rescue Plan Act, city officials spoke generally about how the city of New Orleans would use this funds.

“In the coming days, the City will be laying out more details about recovery plans, which will explain the City’s vision for how we will rebuild our community after the COVID-19 pandemic to be better than before, and more resilient in terms of social, financial and economic development, and public health and safety,” Mayor Cantrell said.

Because of the pandemic, the City will have a continued revenue shortfall for a while, said CAO Gilbert Montano.

“We know that whatever amount the City receives, we will continue to be responsible stewards of public funds. Throughout the pandemic, as before, this Administration has demonstrated strong fiscal management,” said Gilbert Montaño, the City’s Chief Administrative Officer. “This funding from the federal government is not a one-off bailout- we have to continue to think long-term, not just into next year, but the next three to five years. But remember, we started taking action from the beginning – and that has set a foundation for our trajectory forward on our road to recovery.”

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