North Florida Congressman Al Lawson (D-FL 5) is co-sponsoring the Save Our Streets (SOS) Act to give small businesses and nonprofits up to $250,000 to help them deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The vast majority of the funding would go to historically underrepresented businesses, including those owned by minorities.
Lawson, whose district stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, says Congress made a mistake with the first CARES Act relief package, which allowed large companies to get billions of dollars in aid.
“We truly don’t need to bailout major corporations. We need to bail out these small businesses who are struggling in the economy,” he said. “That’s basically what the bill does.”
The $124.5 billion in funding would be available to small businesses earning less than $1 million in revenue a year with fewer than 10 employees as well as small nonprofits with less than $500,000 in gross receipts and fewer than 10 employees. The grants could be used for payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and personal protective equipment.
Publicly traded companies would be excluded and funds couldn’t be used to pay salaries over $100,000.
The SOS Act would also provide $300 million to nonprofit and community organizations that are helping small business owners, $50 million to minority business centers that are providing technical assistance and online training, and another $50 million for centers that are supporting small and women owned businesses.
The SOS Act would require a report detailing the ethnicity, race, industry, geographical demographics, and sex of grant applicants.
“Our small businesses contribute trillions to the U.S. economy each year, but unfortunately, they are not finding the federal relief they need to keep functioning,” Rep. Lawson said. “From hair salons to barbershops, many small-business owners are in need of immediate financial assistance. The Saving Our Street Act is designed to ensure that ‘mom and pop’ small-businesses have access to the funds they need to stay afloat during this pandemic.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) are also sponsoring the bill.