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‘Many more’ small businesses risk closure, small business chief says, even as vaccine distribution ramps up

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Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

The Biden administration’s small business chief warned that “many more” small businesses are at risk of shutting down due to the pandemic, even as millions of Americans get vaccinated daily.

More than 400,000 small businesses have closed, and “many more are at risk,” Small Business Administration (SBA) head Isabella Casillas Guzman told the Associated Press on Monday. The SBA is gearing up to make many changes, but will focus on its coronavirus relief policies in the near term, Guzman added.

“We’ll be looking at our overall programs to see a path forward for small businesses,” Guzman told the AP.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans continue to receive vaccinations on a daily basis, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. As cases have decreased over the last two months, states have eased economic restrictions, allowing businesses to reopen, The New York Times reported.

Many small businesses have already been crushed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Small business revenue has plummeted 30% and the number of open establishments has decreased 32% as of March 12 compared to January 2020, according to Harvard University’s Economic Tracker.

An industry report last month found that nearly half of all small businesses were at risk of closing based on expected revenue and expenses.

“Customer confidence in their future cash flow is low right now,” a small business owner told Alignable, which issued the report. “And so discretionary spending, which our business is based on, is significantly restricted. We need customer confidence to elevate to bring them back and make them feel comfortable spending their money.”

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, SBA has approved more than 7.5 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The agency has doled out more than $687.3 billion to small business owners as part of the program.

President Joe Biden created a 14-day exclusivity period from Feb. 24 to March 9, where only the smallest businesses and nonprofits could receive PPP loans. The exclusivity period was among a series of changes to the program that the Biden administration has implemented.

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