Keven Parker’s Soul Food Café

Jasmine Crawley waits on Valerie S. McLoyd as she makes a purchase from Keven Parker’s Soul Food Café in the Reading Terminal. — Tribune Photo/Abdul R. Sulayman

Small businesses and workers are going to need the most help from the government to recover from the economic distress caused by the coronavirus.

While the pandemic is having an adverse effect on many aspects of the U.S. economy, local small businesses and average American workers need urgent help even more than big companies.

Tribune Staff Writer Ayana Jones reported Sunday that Black-owned establishments in the area are starting to feel the impact of the pandemic.

“It’s catastrophic for everybody,” said Keven Parker, who owns Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar and Lounge and Keven Parker’s Soul Food Café. “I’m just trying to stand firm and support my employees.”

Parker said some food vendors are not getting orders, so they are afraid for their survival.

He is particularly concerned about whether many of the city’s African American-owned businesses will be able to survive this crisis.

“How many of these minority businesses are going to bounce back from this?” Parker asked.

“What will happen if they can’t bounce back?”

Jones reported that the city and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation “are working on a program to support small businesses, including a mix of new grants and zero-interest loans for those that make under $5 million in annual revenue. Officials are still working on the details, and they are asking businesses impacted by the coronavirus-related closures to fill out a survey to help them in their planning. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NHZR5JQ.”

The federal government can help by freezing or deferring without penalty commercial rent and mortgage payments for small businesses. Low-interest loans are also needed.

The government can help workers by instituting a temporary deference on all major debt — mortgages, auto loans, student loans and big credit card payments — to ensure that people do not emerge from the crisis burdened with debts and damaged credit. Rent can be deferred without late fees for missing payments.

By the time the coronavirus pandemic is over, or at least greatly contained, we might find many small businesses have not survived or are on the brink of collapse. Many workers will be desperate for cash after losing jobs.

Government will need to continue to find ways to help small businesses and workers to survive and recover from the economic blow caused by the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, lawmakers struck an urgently needed $2 trillion stimulus deal that includes sending checks directly to individuals amid the coronavirus crisis.

The White House and Democratic and Republican Senate leaders announced an unprecedented emergency bill to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the plan, single Americans would receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400, and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17.

However, the payments would start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are doubled for couples.

According to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, about 90% of Americans would be eligible to receive full or partial payments.

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