Press Release

Gillibrand Calls For Increased Funding To Support Neighborhood And Minority Owned Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 8, 2020

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a bicameral call to increase federal grant funding for neighborhood and micro-businesses burdened by the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Saving Our Street (SOS) Act would support local economies and business by establishing a Microbusiness Assistance Fund of $124.5 billion to provide the resources and direct funding needed to offset lost revenues and increased costs. The bulk of the funding would be dedicated to historically underrepresented businesses, including minority-owned businesses.

“America’s smallest businesses are the heart of local economies, and they urgently need assistance to survive the economic crisis caused by this pandemic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The outbreak of COVID-19 has decreased revenue for many neighborhood businesses, but their bills are piling up. This critical grant funding will help keep their doors open. I will continue working in the Senate to ensure our smallest and most treasured businesses have the resources needed to face this unprecedented financial hardship.” 

Specifically, the SOS Act:

  • Establishes a Microbusiness Assistance Fund of $124.5 billion to provide up to $250,000 directly to small “micro” businesses
    • Targeted to “micro” businesses with fewer than 10 employees
    • Businesses with at least half of their employees from the community and within a low-income community may have up to 20 employees

  • Will help neighborhood businesses put people back to work
    • Can be used for essentials like payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Employers must maintain prior levels of health benefits for employees
    • Essential businesses may use funding to provide hazard pay for employees
  •  Reserved for those who truly need help
    • Businesses earning more than $1 million in revenue are prohibited from receiving grants
    • Nonprofits with less than $500,000 in gross receipts and fewer than 10 employees
    • Excludes publicly traded and hedge fund-owned businesses
    • Recipient businesses must provide financial statements to demonstrate true need
    • Funds cannot be used to pay salaries over $100,000 
  • 75% of the funding goes to historically underrepresented businesses, including minority-owned businesses
    • $300 million to nonprofit and community organizations assisting small business owners
    • $50 million for minority business centers to provide technical assistance and online training
    • $50 million for centers supporting small and women owned businesses 
  • Requires a report detailing the ethnicity, race, industry, geographical demographics, and sex of applicants for grants 

Bill text can be found here.

A one-pager of the bill can be found here.