Two bills filed by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), both aimed at helping small businesses during the COVID-19 emergency, have been voted favorably out of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses and advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
One bill, S. 2643, An Act establishing a Massachusetts Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for businesses ineligible for the comparable federal PPP, is designed to assist small businesses ineligible for the federal PPP.
Not all small businesses who are unable to conduct business through the COVID-19 emergency are eligible for federal loan and grant opportunities like the PPP, established in the recent CARES Act. The federal PPP creates a type of emergency loan that effectively turns into a grant when used to maintain payroll through June and expands the network beyond SBA so that banks, credit unions and local lenders can issue the loans. The creation of a comparable Massachusetts PPP loan to grant program is designed to address this inequity by incentivizing federally ineligible MA small businesses to not lay off workers and to rehire laid-off workers that lost jobs due to COVID-19 disruptions.
“I urge the Governor’s Administration to put a plan in place to allow these small businesses to operate again with strict safety measures,” said DiZoglio. “I ultimately filed this bill as a last resort for the many businesses who remain closed and entirely ineligible for any type of loan or grant assistance from the federal government. These are local families who pay taxes and employ our neighbors. They’re going under and we need to do all we can to keep them afloat.”
The second bill, S. 2564, An Act to support MassMakers, is comprehensive legislation DiZoglio wrote following over a year’s worth of dialogue with entrepreneurs, business owners, and business and community leaders. It touches upon a variety of issues, including the establishment of a Massachusetts Main Streets Office, a MassMakers web portal to assist aspiring start-ups and scale-ups, microbusinesses, and the empowerment of the state’s Supplier Diversity Office. It has been endorsed by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, as well as several local Chambers of Commerce.
“The importance of a healthy small business economy to job creation and growth in Massachusetts cannot be overstated,” said DiZoglio. “Our small business community has told us what they need – increased connectivity, streamlined regulation and service delivery, access to knowledge and opportunity, and empowerment to succeed. This bill is a significant step in the right direction regarding these issues.”
Of particular note during the COVID-19 emergency are provisions in the bill that establish an online, one-stop shop MassMakers web portal for Massachusetts small businesses.
This web portal would:
1. Provide access to information and toolkits to support and assist small businesses, during not only the pandemic but also our economic recovery and in the years to come.
2. Identify Massachusetts small businesses with a “MassMakers” logo and their local products and services as “MassMade.”
3. Help connect local, small MassMaker businesses with local consumers by providing a “Supply Mass, Buy Mass” interactive searchable database for shoppers to find what they need – locally – instead of having to rely on giants like Walmart and Amazon.
“Due to the shutdown and need for social distancing, people are flocking online for the bulk of their purchases and the online giants like Amazon are thriving,” said DiZoglio. “Many of these online sales, however, are sending our Massachusetts purchasing dollars to out-of-state companies who happen to be established or connected enough to have access to advertising and the ability for online sales. During a time when much of our small business community is literally prohibited from making in-person sales, retail giants like Walmart continue to be able to make both in-person and online sales.”