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Small businesses need help now

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. They have been swiftly and drastically affected by the furor over the Chinese virus.

Yet, all indications are that the bulk of the money government has thrown at the problem is going to larger, well-endowed businesses.

There are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States, which employ 47.5 percent of the private workforce. The top three industries for small business employment nationwide are, in order, health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and retail trade.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott said this week that Congress needs to change the way it is handing out money in a program meant to help small businesses crippled by the impact of the virus. Large companies and companies that have not been affected by the virus are getting the assistance, he said.

The Paycheck Protection Program was to provide $349 billion in aid to small business, in the form of loans and grants.

It disappeared almost overnight.

Media reports say two-thirds of the PPP money went to large, publicly traded companies, several of them with market values in excess of $100 million.

Lawsuits already have been filed against large banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and U.S. Bancorp. The suits allege the banks gave out the largest loans first because they made more money on those loans.

In Florida, 1,000 companies got help through an already existing program to provide “bridge” loans in disasters such as hurricanes. But 37,000 did not.

Locally, the city government has fashioned a partnership with VyStar Credit Union to make emergency loans to small business from a $50 million pool of money. More than 100 loans have been approved, according to the Daily Record.

City officials told Eye they have no information on where the VyStar loan money went, or the PPP loans in this area.

There are more than 18,000 small businesses in the 4th Congressional District, which includes Jacksonville. They employ more than 148,000 people.

In short, there are a lot of small businesses, and many that are struggling. Any help that is available should be going to them, not to large and thriving companies.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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