Schneider Hosts Roundtable with Local Black Small Business Leaders on Resources Available to Help During Covid-19 Pandemic

June 22, 2020
Press Release

Last Friday, June 19, Juneteenth, Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) hosted a conversation on the unique challenges facing Black business owners during the Covid-19 pandemic. He was joined by Pastor Arthur Gass, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Lake County, Chris Ayers, owner of Waukegan-based A-List Limousine, and Twanda Taylor, owner of Zion-based Twanda’s Nail Salon. 

In a recent nationwide survey of black and Hispanic business owners polled between April 30 and May 12, only 12 percent received the full funding they had applied for through federal Covid-19 relief programs, and only around one quarter had received any funding. By contrast, half of all small businesses reported receiving federal support through the PPP program.

Ensuring the second round of CARES Act funding reached more minority-owned small businesses was a major priority for Schneider and House Democrats. The second funding round for PPP included set-asides of $60 billion of funds for small community-based lenders to help get this money to the small businesses that need our help the most.

During the call, Twanda Taylor and Chris Ayers each described their businesses’ experiences and obstacles to applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Both eventually received loans in the second round of funding approved by Congress.

The conversation can be seen in full HERE.  

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for all small businesses, but we know that Black-owned small businesses face many distinct barriers adding to their struggles. We can better lift up Black communities when we also lift up Black-owned businesses and provide more opportunities to Black workers of all ages and all skills. We also have to do more to do more to support Black entrepreneurs, and help Black-owned businesses access the capital and resources needed to grow,” said Schneider. 

Pastor Arthur Gass, President of the Lake County Black Chamber of Commerce added: “There are over 2.6 million small Black-owned businesses in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. 94% of small businesses in majority Black communities hold cash reserves of two weeks or less, according to data from JP Morgan Chase. This means Black business owners are more likely to run out of money faster than their white counterparts to keep their doors open. One can only imagine what the current recovery will look like, if special attention is not given to match the scale of the crisis, to the most vulnerable small businesses and their diverse workforce who live from paycheck to paycheck.”

“To know someone cares -- they call it the CARES Act, but I think it really means something when you see your elected officials really do care,” said Chris Ayers, owner of Waukegan-based A-List Limousine during the live event. “I believe we are going to make it because of the changes that we are talking about. We are looking forward to things getting better, and not just better, but to our best. And I think we can do that as a country if we really learn from everything that’s happened with George Floyd.”

Congress has taken a number of actions to help individuals and small businesses in the Covid-19 pandemic, including:

  • Paycheck Protection Program - forgivable loans to small business administered through the banks to keep employees on payroll
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans - working capital loans administered through SBA
  • Expanded UI - increased unemployment by $600/week, and made more people, including the gig workers, eligible
  • Direct Assistance - $1,200 payments to most Americans 

Small businesses can find relevant resources on Schneider’s website and are encouraged to get in touch at (847) 383-4870 or by submitting a casework request