Indiana's 520,000 small businesses play a critical role in our state's economy, and according to the Small Business Administration, they employ 44% of Hoosier workers. Similarly, small businesses account for 44% of U.S. economic activity.
Unfortunately, these businesses are in desperate need of help due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, "about one in five (21%) of small business owners reported they will have to close their doors if current economic conditions do not improve over the next six months."
To address this issue, Indiana has taken commendable steps to support small businesses during this economic downturn. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) announced two grants, Taking Care of Main Street and the COVID-19 Response Program, which are a big victory for the businesses struggling from the initial closing that occurred in March.
I'm happy to see Columbia City Connect and Wabash Marketplace Inc. in Senate District 17 receiving funding to use for salary expenses through the Taking Care of Main Street grant. I'm also encouraged that Grant, Wabash and Whitley counties will be receiving funding through the COVID-19 Response Program to use for county business' expenses. Back in April, North Manchester was also awarded monies to go to small businesses.
I want to personally thank Lt. Gov. Crouch and OCRA for their commitment to helping small businesses stay afloat in this unprecedented time.
However, there is more we need to do.
Since the whole country went virtual in March, the shutdown exposed our state's need to remain connected without physically being in schools and places of business. The boldest and most dramatic investment of CARES Act Relief funds should be in connectivity and rural broadband. This will require a significant amount of investment, and we should join many other states who have used the funds for this purpose and invest today.
This idea comes from my recently released six-point plan "Time to get Main Street moving again," where I lay out specific actions the state should take to help businesses survive until we arrive at some level of normalcy. My plan would:
• Protect small businesses against frivolous lawsuits stemming from COVID-19;
• Reform the venture capital investment tax credit to help develop Hoosier companies and allow for entrepreneurship opportunities;
• Reduce health insurance costs for small businesses by expanding their ability to join association health plans that pool resources and risk;
• Amend the CARES Act guidelines to reach down to “Main Street USA” and get funds to local businesses that were impacted by the shutdown;
• Give employers clarity that federal Paycheck Protection Program loans will be nontaxable at the state level, and lastly
• Collaborate with the federal and state treasury to invest in internet connectivity.
As we move forward, we must continue to protect and grow Hoosier jobs. It is crucial we remain a business- friendly state, and I will do my best this legislative session to give voice to the small businesses who are the lifeblood of our economy.
Visit IndianaSenateRepublicans.com/time-to-get-main-street-moving-again to read my six-point plan, "Time to get Main Street moving again."
Please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-232-9400 with any comments, questions or concerns.
Click here for a high-resolution photo of Zay.