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Congressman Kildee Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Support Small Businesses on Main Street

May 15, 2020
Press Release
RELIEF for Main Street Act Would Provide Direct Grants to Small Businesses, With Under 20 Employees, in Communities Across the U.S.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today announced he is introducing new legislation to provide direct grant support to small businesses that have been left out of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

While the PPP has been able to help some small businesses and their employees impacted by the coronavirus, millions more remain on the financial brink and are less likely to benefit from existing programs, especially very small, minority-owned, rural or tribal businesses. At the same time, states, cities, counties, and towns have stepped up and established local relief funds to provide emergency support, including loans and grants, to small businesses experiencing revenue loss. Local funds are led by a range of stakeholders, including city and county governments, public authorities, philanthropies, financial institutions, and local chambers of commerce.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation, the Recharge and Empower Local Innovation and Entrepreneurs Fund for Main Street Act (RELIEFfor Main Street Act) creates a new $50.5 billion Small Business Local Relief Program to provide direct federal support to cities, counties and states in order to seed and scale local relief funds and target small businesses with 20 employees or fewer, or with 50 employees or fewer located in low-income neighborhoods. Because no two communities are alike, local relief funds can be tailored based on capacity and the financial needs and conditions of local businesses. Grants to small businesses through the program would be given directly to communities and not have to go through financial institutions and would not have to be paid back.

Representatives Fred Upton (MI-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Dwight Evans (PA-03) have sponsored the legislation in the House with Congressman Kildee. U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Steve Daines (R-MT) have introduced the companion measure in the U.S. Senate.

Today, 95 mayors sent a letter to Congressional leadership in support of the proposal. The RELIEF for Main Street Act is supported by the African American Mayors Association, Center for Community Progress, the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Coalition, the Build from Within Alliance, and 95 mayors across the country, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson, Battle Creek Mayor Mark Behnke, Monroe Mayor Robert Clark, Midland Mayor Maureen Donker, Saginaw Mayor Floyd Kloc, Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies, Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron, Bay City Mayor Kathleen Newsham, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly, Port Huron Mayor Pauline Repp, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor, Pontiac Mayor Dr. Deirdre Waterman and Westland Mayor William Wild.

“Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses, especially in underserved areas, have been unable to access emergency loans under the existing Paycheck Protection Program,” said Congressman Kildee. “My legislation, which is supported by Republicans and Democrats, would provide direct grants to small businesses and their workers that need it most. By targeting aid through local relief funds instead of banks, we can get quicker, targeted and more direct economic relief to the small businesses on Main Street that need it most, especially in low-income and rural communities,” Congressman Kildee said.

“The RELIEF for Main Street Act will serve as a complement to the Paycheck Protection Program. It will ensure that small businesses have a range of resources as they continue to face the challenges of this pandemic head-on. I am proud to be working with this bipartisan group on creative solutions that support Main Street,” said Representative Fitzpatrick.

“Small businesses are the backbone of southwest Michigan’s communities. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure more small businesses have the resources needed to overcome the challenges they’re facing in today’s economic climate, helping to protect jobs and keep doors open in Michigan and in communities across the nation,” said Representative Upton.

“This bill would provide much-needed additional lifeline funds to small businesses, which would also help the people they employ. It would use federal fiscal power to let cities, counties and states drive out relief in ways that suit local conditions and needs – including helping many businesses less likely to participate in PPP and other programs. This is a time when we need as many tools in the toolbox as possible,” said Representative Evans, Vice Chair of the House Small Business Committee

“Local small businesses are woven into the fabric of every American community and are the backbone of our neighborhoods and our economy. The RELIEF for Main Street Act will provide critical support to businesses most in need of help; particularly those minority and women owned businesses that are vital to low-income and rural communities and across small and mid-sized cities. The Center forCommunity Progress proudly supports this legislation, and believes this investment in keeping local, mom-and-pop businesses open on Main Streets across the country will protect neighborhoods, jobs, and local tax revenues as we work collectively to respond to COVID-19 and rebuild stronger and more equitable communities,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, President and CEO of the Center forCommunity Progress.

“Our local restaurants, coffee shops, barbers and entrepreneurs showcase the unique fabric of main streets across the country. The RELIEF for Main Street Act will empower local leaders to help hometown businesses receive the assistance they need to get through this crisis and participate in the recovery,” said Municipal League President and Saginaw Mayor Pro Tem Brenda F. Moore.

“The RELIEF for Main Street Act will enable cities, counties and states to provide flexible resources that both fit the financial needs of micro businesses that have been exceptionally hard hit by this crisis and fuel the recovery of the commercial corridors where many locally owned enterprises concentrate and co-locate.  This legislation is desperately needed as local economies begin to re-open,” said Bruce Katz, Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University.