Denver – Today, in a letter to Congressional leaders, entrepreneur and philanthropist Howard Schultz and more than 100 current and former prominent CEOs of some of America’s largest companies, major trade associations, and successful small businesses, expressed support for the RESTART Act – bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). The RESTART Act would create a low-interest, partially forgivable, long-term working capital loan to help the hardest-hit small- and mid-sized businesses recover from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis and one of the most disruptive economic periods in our history.
The following is an excerpt of the letter:
“As current and former CEOs of some of America’s largest companies, major trade associations, and successful small businesses, we know that small businesses are essential to our country’s economic and social health. They employ almost half of all private-sector workers and account for 44 percent of U.S. GDP.
“Small businesses are too critical to our country’s economic strength to let fail. From retailers and restaurants to consulting firms and manufacturers, small business owners are facing a future of potential financial ruin that will make the nation’s current economic downturn last years longer than it must.
“At this moment of crisis, we urge you to transcend partisanship and forge meaningful agreement on an assistance package to help our struggling small businesses and, in turn, tens of millions of Americans. We believe that assistance should embrace the following principles:
- Federally guaranteed loans, at favorable terms, that will enable small businesses to transform and sustain themselves through 2020 and well into 2021. Support must last for longer than just the next two or three months.
- Businesses should have flexibility in how loan funds are used.
- The hardest-hit businesses should be eligible for at least partial loan forgiveness. Any forgiveness should be limited to small and mid-sized firms that have suffered significant revenue declines and are not publicly traded.
- Relief needs to be delivered expeditiously. Building on the existing PPP infrastructure would be one way to quickly stand up a new loan program.
- These funds must flow to all small businesses in need, particularly those run by people of color, who have traditionally had less access to capital. A portion of funds should also be directed toward strengthening community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs).
“Strong bipartisan support for Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Todd Young’s RESTART Act—which embodies all of these principles—demonstrates recognition of the need for this kind of sustained support. We believe something resembling the RESTART Act must be in this next package.”
In addition to Howard Schutlz, the letter was signed by Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart Inc.; Joshua Bolten, President and CEO of the Business Roundtable; Thomas J Donahue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Ginni Rometty, Executive Chairman of IBM; Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi; Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp.; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc.; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce; Kevin Johnson, President and CEO of Starbucks; Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company; Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments; Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., Inc.; Ursula Burns, Former CEO of Xerox Corp. and VEON Ltd.; Ken Chenault, Former Chairman and CEO of American Express; Don Thompson, Former CEO of McDonalds Corp.; Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Cisco; Jim Sinegal, Former CEO of Costco Wholesale Corp.; Steve Case, CEO of Revolution and Former CEO of America Online (AOL); Earvin Johnson, CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises; Arne M. Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International Inc.; Jon Butler, Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars; Brandon Ridenour, CEO of ANGI Homeservices; and more.
The full text of the letter is available HERE.
“Prominent business leaders are throwing their support behind the RESTART Act, because they know it’s what the hardest-hit Main Street businesses across the country need to stay afloat through the end of the year and into next year,” said Bennet. “Momentum continues to build for our proposal with a wide cross-section of industries—from concert venues to restaurants to hotels and manufacturing companies—because businesses need sustained support with flexibility, loan forgiveness, and enough time to get back on their feet before paying it back. If we want to prevent temporary job losses from turning into permanent ones, and if we want to help the broader economy recover, we must include the RESTART Act in this next relief package.”
“I am grateful these prominent business leaders are sounding the alarm that our nation’s small business community needs a long-term loan program like our RESTART Act to provide relief to America’s job creators and innovators, and millions of hardworking employees. Many of the signatories started their careers at a small business, so they know firsthand how challenging it can be to make ends meet and keep employees paid, even in the best of times. We are in the middle of one of the worst economic crises this country has ever seen, and it is time for Congress to act in a responsible and meaningful way by enacting our RESTART Act,” said Young.
Some concepts from the RESTART Act were included in the HEALS Act – the coronavirus relief package proposed by Senate Republicans last week – but it does not go nearly far enough. Bennet and Young are pushing for more of the RESTART Act to be included in any final coronavirus relief package that passes the Senate. The RESTART Act has received the support of 45 bipartisan U.S. Senate cosponsors and is endorsed by 40 trade associations. Companion legislation was also introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) and continues to gain momentum.