Philadelphia Business Journal: U.S. Rep. Evans: Next round of PPP should focus on Black and Latino-owned businesses

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans is calling for the next round of stimulus funding to focus on hard-hit small businesses, particularly Black and Latino-owned businesses.

Evans, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and vice chair of the House Small Business Committee, told the Philadelphia Business Journal his immediate focus is ensuring that the remaining Paycheck Protection Program funding is allocated toward small businesses in a potential new stimulus package. About $130 billion was left in funding when the Small Business Administration stopped accepting applications on June 30.

“I’d like to see that the money gets to the small businesses that truly deserve it. That is something I don’t take lightly,” Evans said. “If we want these businesses to be able to survive in a very difficult time, then we need this to work.”

Evans represents Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District, which includes West Philadelphia, most of Center City, and parts of North Philadelphia.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree on the size and focus on another round of stimulus funding, but the Trump administration has expressed support for more aid to small businesses. At a Small Business Committee hearing on Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said another round of PPP funding should be targeted to small businesses with significant revenue declines.

“A next phase of relief should extend the PPP, but on a more targeted basis for smaller companies and those that are especially hard hit, such as restaurants, hotels and other travel and hospitality businesses,” Mnuchin said.

Existing poverty rates, social unrest and losses from the Covid-19 shutdown have combined to create an especially challenging situation for small businesses in Philadelphia, Evans said. With a surge in Covid-19 cases across the U.S., he also worries about further financial difficulties for businesses in the coming months

Evans said Black and Latino-owned businesses should be a focus of the upcoming stimulus package, as they have faced the greatest challenges during the pandemic.

From the beginning of February to mid-April, 41% of Black-owned businesses had closed throughout the U.S., according to an analysis by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. About 17% of white-owned businesses closed during the same period, the research shows.

“African American businesses, Latino businesses are not getting the funding and the attention that they deserve. These people have earned it,” Evans said. “They’re working every day. They’re very much a part of the economy.”

Evans and other lawmakers questioned Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carrazana about the representation of businesses of color in lending practices and PPP funding at the small business hearing on Friday. Mnuchin said the Treasury Department has worked to put aside funding for community development financial institutions, known as CDFIs. Those institutions offer affordable lending to low-income communities.

While the SBA did not release a breakdown of PPP recipients by race and ethnicity, a survey by the Global Strategy Group showed about 12%of Black and Hispanic business owners had received funding they requested when polled between April 30 and May 12.

“We want this to work, so we’re going to keep raising our voices, keep pressure on the treasury secretary and the SBA administrator until this is corrected,” Evans said.