Hawaiʻi residents would like to see legislative support for small businesses struggling due to the pandemic, according to a recent survey of 625 people conducted by the Hawaiʻi Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The “Peopleʻs Pulse Survey,” in partnership with OmniTrak and with the support of Central Pacific Bank Foundation, highlights the urgency of helping businesses through this extremely difficult time, Chamber President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said in a newsletter to members.

“This is why any actions that will undermine recovery efforts will chip away at the limited lifelines currently available to our local business community,” she wrote.

Highlights from the survey:

  • 98 percent of Hawaiʻi residents say small business is important to Hawaiʻi, with 88 percent stating it is very important. (This level of “very important” is rarely seen in Hawaiʻi, according to Menor-McNamara).
  • 97 percent support action by the current Legislature to help keep small businesses open and their workforce employed with 8 in 10 saying it is “very important.”
  • 95 percent agree the Legislature should focus on getting the economy back on track and people back to work, with 75 percent strongly agreeing.  Only 5 percent disagree that economic recovery should be the Legislature’s priority.
  • 86 percent of residents agree that this is not the time for the Legislature to increase mandates on small business, with 48 percent strongly agreeing and 14 percent disagreeing.

In a Chamber of Commerce small business survey of members, 85 percent of business executives said it was important to decrease regulations on small business, with two-thirds indicating this is extremely important for economic recovery.

The legislative session is at the halfway mark.

On the federal front, according to the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, The American Rescue Plan Act provides overdue aid to small businesses in the hardest-hit communities and sectors.

The bill includes:

  • A new $28.6 billion grant program for restaurants and bars that have lost revenue because of the pandemic;
  • An expansion of Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to include more nonprofits and digital media companies, as well as an additional $7.25 billion for the program;
  • $15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance Grants Program to provide grants of up to $10,000 per business to small businesses in low-income communities that have been most affected by the pandemic;
  • $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. Eligible applicants can now access both the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and PPP to address SVOG’s delayed start.
  • $175 million for Community Navigator pilot program which is designed to help small businesses in underserved and underbanked communities access the COVID-19 relief resources available to them; and
  • $1.325 billion in administrative funding to the Small Business Administration so the agency has the resources and manpower necessary to implement the programs.

States and counties will also receive funding to support programs.

“We look forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to come up with collaborative proposals to get our economy back on track and people back to work,” Menor-McNamara said.

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