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Poll: 92% of California Small Businesses Report Negative COVID-19 Impacts, Inability to Secure PPP Grants

STAFF REPORT

In light of reports that California small businesses received the fewest PPP loans nationwide, new data reveals a shocking rate of small business closures and reductions to the workforce in the state

Sausalito, CA – As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote to add additional funding to the depleted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), a new scientific poll released today reveals the economic peril of California’s small businesses. Additionally, the poll shows vast support for robust, direct grant assistance and other relief measures to help small businesses stay afloat and fully recover from the crisis.

Specifically, the poll found 92% of California’s small businesses have been harmed by COVID-19, with nearly half (46%) indicating a severe negative impact. Both the overall impact and severe negative impacts are slightly higher than the findings in a similar national poll. Additionally, the poll found that a significant number of California’s small businesses have permanently laid off, furloughed, or reduced the hours/salary of their entire workforce. In California 4 in 10 businesses adjusted their entire staff, whereas nationally, 1 in 3 businesses did so. Further, the poll found 44% of small businesses in California have already closed or are planning to do so in the next two months.

In terms of policy solutions, the poll also found that 93% of small business owners support direct grant assistance to aid in recovery. While PPP and EIDL have already run out of funds once, it’s important to note that 84% of respondents support broadening financial assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments by not tying aid to maintaining payroll as required by PPP.

“While large publicly traded restaurant groups received the majority of PPP funding, small restaurants like mine are nearing a breaking point. Our fixed costs are so high in the Bay Area that even if I were to be approved for PPP, it would not scratch the surface in helping me pay rent and other business expenses,” said Shalini Khanna, franchisee of Una Mas Mexican Grill in San Jose, CA. “As Congress considers adding a second round of funding to the stimulus programs, I remain unconvinced that there will be measures in place to ensure those who are in the most need are the ones receiving the funds. I don’t want to lose everything I have built over the past 15 years, but without help that is a real possibility.”

“Seeing that large corporations are receiving PPP loans, I am growing skeptical that the current stimulus programs will work for small businesses like mine,” said Rachel Klein, owner of Fire Starters Studios in Burbank, CA. “We did everything right, but despite having all our financials in order when the PPP application opened, I was given the runaround by seven different lenders, including two large banks that I had a direct relationship with. On the seventh try, we submitted an application and were in underwriting when the program ran out of funding. Now we are left in limbo, unsure of what our future holds. As Congress considers the next phase of help for small businesses, I strongly hope they will include grant assistance for actual small businesses.”

“The strength of California’s small businesses has helped build our state’s economy, in normal times, to the sixth largest in the world. But, right now small businesses are struggling through no fault of their own—nearly half are experiencing severe negative impacts from coronavirus and more than 4 in 10 have closed or plan to do so in the coming months,” said Mark Herbert, Vice President of California at Small Business Majority. “In order to restore California’s economy and make sure that Main Street is thriving again, more needs to be done by our lawmakers in Congress. Refilling the PPP and EIDL coffers is simply a Band-Aid to a gaping wound. Small businesses need unrestricted, robust grant assistance.”

This poll represents the opinions of 167 California small businesses and was an oversample from a previously released national poll. The survey was conducted April 7-10, 2020 by Chesapeake Beach Consulting for Small Business Majority. For a copy of the full report, please visit: smallbusinessmajority.org/sites/default/files/research-reports/COVID-19-small-business-opinion-poll.pdf

Small Business Majority is able to connect members of the media with business owners in different regions throughout the State of California to share the impacts their businesses are facing. 

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