Small businesses list 5 priorities for Congress as they discuss more aid

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INDIANAPOLIS — As Congress debates another federal aid package, small business owners want a seat at the table.

“There was no game plan for dealing with a pandemic,” said Mike Seidle, co-founder of a small Indianapolis-based tech company called WorkHere. “None of us had an off the shelf plan for what happens if everyone gets told to stay home for two months.”

WorkHere helps companies recruit employees. Suddenly, as coronavirus shut down the country, businesses went from hiring to firing.

“We were having a record month after month, and then all of a sudden, there was no demand for our product,” Seidle said.

Despite business suddenly dropping by about 80%, WorkHere was able to keep all of their employees thanks to a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program.

“I would have had to lay off half my people without that,” Seidle said.

PPP is a program Seidle wants to see extended, and thousands of other small businesses do too.

“While the PPP was great, we need more,” said Barbara Quandt, the Indiana director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“Small business owners really appreciate what Congress did for them in establishing this in the first place, but they’re gonna need more not only to survive, but to thrive.”

The NFIB has put out a list of five priorities they want Congress to consider as they debate another aid package. On top of that list is additional financial assistance, followed by liability protection, tax relief, unemployment insurance reform and relief from more regulation.

“We’re one step forward, one or two steps back,” Quandt said. “We’re making progress but we need to do more”

As states see increases in cases, there’s concern that more shutdowns loom ahead, damaging business that hasn’t yet recovered.

“We’re really nervous about the next six months,” Seidle said. “The whole prospect of having rolling shutdowns and lockdowns is a really frightening thing.”

For financial assistance, Seidle would like to see another round of PPP funding made available. He fears that without it, unemployment will rise, making a recovery even harder when the virus is under control.

“I think a lot of us will have to go back to laying off because there just isn’t the revenue,” Seidle said. “There’s not the customers paying and buying right now for us to support the amount of employees a lot of us have.”

NFIB also put out a 10-part plan back in April and says some of those recommendations turned into legislation.

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