Howard Schultz Says Small Businesses Need More Government Help

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Howard Schultz said on Monday that he feared many small restaurants and retailers would struggle to survive the economic shutdown of coronaviruses without additional help from the United States government.

“If we don’t provide a safety net for restaurants, I suspect that we could see a situation across the country in which around 30% or more of small independent retailers and / or restaurants will never reopen,” said the former billionaire CEO of Starbucks. on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”.

Schultz said he hoped Congress and other officials “are looking for ways to recognize that not only do we have to flatten the curve of the health crisis, but we have to start flattening the curve of economic desperation.”

The value of these companies goes far beyond their basic income, he said. “This is the job. These are the sellers. All of them support them, not to mention the intrinsic value of neighborhoods and community gatherings. “

Congress has created a $ 350 billion loan program for small businesses as part of a $ 2 trillion economic relief plan to help alleviate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lending program, which went online Friday, has already seen a surge in demand, adding to existing concerns that $ 350 billion is not enough to help all the businesses that need it. Parts of the loan used for payroll and certain other expenses can be canceled.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said he would ask Congress for additional funds if necessary.

Schultz suggested that future fiscal stimulus should include more of a “safety net” to help homeowners and banks who want to “not only give up short-term rent, but give these restaurateurs the ability to open up that the rent be forgiven. “

“We can’t have a scorched earth situation in which 30-40% of restaurants and small businesses don’t reopen,” said Schultz, a longtime Democrat who had considered an independent candidacy for president but decided to do not do it.

“Now is not the time for politics. Now is the time to come together to give hope to those who need it most and, most importantly, to show a shared humanity, “he said. “We have to come together and recognize that we are going to overcome this, but we also have to dig deep to help these people who cannot help themselves. “

The Schultz Foundation launches “ThePlateFund”

The Pike Place market is virtually empty of customers on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. The historic farmer’s market is Seattleā€™s most popular tourist attraction, and businesses have been particularly affected by fears of coronaviruses.

John Moore | Getty Images

The Schultz Foundation launched “ThePlateFund” on Monday to help restaurateurs in the Seattle area face economic hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schultz Family Foundation has partnered with other local organizations – All In Seattle, the Seattle Foundation and UpTogether – to establish the $ 4 million fund. The program offers them a one-time payment of $ 500 and can be delivered within 48 hours, said Schultz.

“Friday was the third week in which restaurant workers did not receive a pay check,” said Schultz, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had started hitting the Seattle area earlier than the others. regions of the country.

Schultz said the program is intended to provide immediate assistance to affected workers who are waiting on various government assistance programs.

“We have to recognize that the recovery will come but that it will be late,” he said. “They need money and they need it now. They can’t put food on their table and that’s a problem. “

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