A bill backed by Florida Republicans to include local Chambers of Commerce in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is building steam on Capitol Hill with new supporters.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, brought out the legislation with the support of U.S. Sen, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
Rubio’s office insisted that local chambers “provide valuable resources to small businesses across the country, and Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), which play an important role in creating a vibrant tourism industry.” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, is also backing the proposal.
“The Paycheck Protection Program has helped millions of small businesses and nonprofits across a wide range of industries endure the coronavirus pandemic,” Rubio said when the bill was introduced. “It is critical that nonprofits designed to support the economic success of local communities survive, including chambers of commerce and destination-based organizations that promote tourism. I am proud to work with my colleagues to address this eligibility issue and help these organizations whose mission is to help our small businesses and the travel industry.”
“In Texas alone, roughly half of all small businesses belong to their local chamber of commerce, and the members of more than 6,500 chambers across the country are in urgent need of the services these organizations provide,” Cruz said. “Hundreds of small businesses and communities also rely on tourism – which has been decimated during this pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program has been an enormous success, and I’m hopeful the Senate will move swiftly to pass this bill to equip even more job creators with the resources they need to grow their way out of this economic crisis and get the American people back to work.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of our country and today, more than ever, they need our help to survive this pandemic and put Americans back on the pathway to jobs and economic wellness,” Scott said. “As a former small business owner, I know how vital small businesses are for our local economies. This legislation would expand this critical program to our non-profits and Chambers of Commerce that offer the important infrastructure in our communities by providing valuable resources to local businesses. As a tourism destination state, South Carolina would not only benefit from the expansion of these loans, but the state would also continue to provide employment for hardworking families during this time. I want to thank my Senate colleagues for understanding the importance of this program and working to ensure that the folks back home are not left behind.”
Cruz’s bill was sent to the Senate Small Business Committee.
Over in the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., has been focused on the issue in recent months, including working with other members of the Republican caucus to push for more of a role for Chambers of Commerce under the PPP.
Spano introduced the House version of Cruz’s bill at the end of last month.
“Chambers of Commerce are essential in bringing our small business community together, and the pro-business climate they facilitate will be vital for our economic recovery from COVID-19 closures,” said Spano. “I have fought for PPP which has successfully saved American jobs and now it is time to provide relief to the organizations who serve our small businesses, our local Chambers of Commerce. In our district alone, Lakeland and Temple Terrace Chambers have been affected and had to furlough staff, giving them access to PPP would immediately allow them to get back to work and continuing serving our community— saving jobs and livelihoods.”
Spano’s bill was sent to the House Small Business Committee and is now gaining more backers.This week, Spano showcased the support of six members of Congress including U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hi., U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, and U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, D-Tex.
“As a former small business owner and chamber member, I know how critical Chamber organizations are in helping and assisting small businesses,” said Spano on Thursday. “I am working hand in hand with our local chambers to save jobs and save livelihoods and get our economy back on track.”
“Our Chambers of Commerce have been critically important in helping our local businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be there for support during the recovery process ahead. These organizations deserve the same relief as they work to fulfill their mission to keep local business booming through pro-growth initiatives and essential coalition building,” said Steube on Thursday.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.