President Biden’s ‘Path Out of the Pandemic’ Plan: Small Business & Economy
The heavy hitting headlines coming out of President Biden’s address on his Administration’s efforts to find a path out of the pandemic focused on OSHA’s pending Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating COVID-19 vaccines for certain employers. Action item No. 5 of the six-point Path Out of the Pandemic plan unveiled on Sept. 9 garnered less attention, but is still worthy of review by mid- and small-sized printing companies.
The section titled “New Support for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19” is aimed at improved and expanded utilization of both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), for which the plan notes there is still $150 billion in loanable funds available to eligible companies. President Biden has directed the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to do the following:
- Increase EIDL loan amounts to eligible borrowers to $2 million (up from $500,000);
- Ensure that no small business has to repay the EIDL loan until two years after they receive funding;
- Provide an exclusive 30-day application window for EIDL loans to businesses seeking $500,000 or less; and
- Make it easier for small businesses with multiple locations in the hardest-hit sectors such as restaurants, hotels, and gyms – key print customer verticals – to more easily utilize the EIDL program.
To avoid the unintended use of these funds by large companies that occurred earlier in the pandemic, the SBA will work closely with its Inspector General to tighten implementation controls and monitor the program’s operations.
Regarding PPP, President Biden’s action plan calls for streamlining the loan forgiveness process for small businesses that borrowed $150,000 or less. A pre-completed application form is being sent to borrowers in this category from the SBA, so that the loan recipient simply has to review, sign and send back to the agency. SBA will then work with the lender to complete the forgiveness process. If your company is one of the 2.5 million that the SBA estimates can take advantage of this new process, you may just have received a few hours of your life back from the US government. This new system actually launched on Aug. 4, and SBA estimates more than 820,000 companies have used it “with borrowers spending an average of six minutes on the application and 60% of applicants completing the process on their mobile phones.”
Also included in this section of the plan, a new Community Navigator Program (funded by the American Rescue Plan Act that was signed into law in March 2021) will be deployed by SBA this fall to connect small businesses in underserved communities with federal, state and local economic recovery resources.
Printers who have converted some capacity to manufacture personal protective equipment, or PPE, may also be interested in the section of President Biden’s plan entitled, “Increasing Testing and Requiring Masking.” Package printers in the pharmaceutical marketplace should note the Administration’s use of the Defense Production Act to procure nearly $2 million worth of COVID-19 test kits (approximately 280 million point-of-care and at-home rapid tests) with a note that this executive action will allow for “sustained production to be able to surge additional manufacturing” in the future. Given that OSHA’s ETS is expected to include a testing opt-out plus the increase in testing of visitors to a variety of venues – from health care facilities to major sports stadiums (to the 30-year high school reunion your truly will attend next month) – packaged COVID-19 test kits are here to stay in the near future.
Printed masks, too, are not going away anytime soon. President Biden’s plan called for maintaining masking on airplanes, trains, maritime vessels, and intercity buses, with fines doubled for refusal to comply. This mandate has been extended to January 18, 2022. Federal buildings, federal lands, and military bases, too, will continue to mask up. Cloth masks are beginning to be banned by some European airlines, however. (Only surgical grade masks are allowed in flight on at least five airlines, including Air France and Lufthansa.) According to a 9/3/21 Washington Post article, U.S. carriers have declined to comment as to whether they would follow the overseas trend. For now, both the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not have mandates on mask materials.
The White House is expected to announce additional steps in the coming weeks to combat the Delta variant and end the pandemic globally. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, President Biden has vowed “to use every tool necessary” – including novel, hand-in-hand approaches to federal, state, and private sector efforts – “to protect the American people from COVID-19.”
Lisbeth Lyons is the Vice President, Government & Political Affairs at PRINTING United Alliance, the largest, most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States. PRINTING United Alliance members have exclusive access to preeminent education; training; workshops; events; research; governmental and legislative representation; safety and environmental sustainability guidance; and resources from the leading media company in the industry – NAPCO Media.
In this article, Lisbeth addresses President Biden’s “Path Out of the Pandemic” plan released on September 9, 2021. More information about COVID-19 economic recovery can be found at www.sgia.org or reach out to Lisbeth should you have additional questions specific to how these issues may affect your business: email@example.com.
To become a member of PRINTING United Alliance and learn more about how PRINTING United Alliance subject matter experts can assist your company with services and resources such as those mentioned in this article, please contact the Alliance membership team: 888-385-3588 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisbeth Lyons is Vice President, Government & Political Affairs, PRINTING United Alliance, the largest, most comprehensive graphic arts trade association in the country. With more than 20 years of experience representing the voice of business on Capitol Hill, Lisbeth advocates for public policies that protect and advance the economic future of the printing and packaging industry. She oversees PRINTING United Alliance’s legislative, political, and grassroots advocacy initiatives, and has served in executive leadership of multiple successful advocacy campaigns, such as Coalition for Paper Options, Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, and Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers Coalition.
Prior to representing PRINTING United Alliance, Lisbeth served in similar roles at Printing Industries of America, US Telecom, and the National Federation of Independent Business. She also spent three years as a K-12 teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system, where she was on the forefront of urban education reform in the mid-1990s.
Lisbeth is Midwestern born and bred, having grown up in the St. Louis metropolitan area and attended college at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, before starting her career in Washington, DC. She holds a B.A. in English/Sociology and a professional graduate certificate from The George Washington University School of Political Management. She lives in the historic Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC.
An avid leader and learner in professional development, Lisbeth was a founding member of the Government Relations Leadership Forum, and is an active participant in organizations such as Council of Manufacturing Associations, Women in Government Relations, and National Association of Business PACs, among others. Lisbeth is often a featured speaker at premier industry conferences; she has spoken to Boards of Directors, corporate executive management teams, and state and regional trade associations across the country from coast to coast.