Our Duty to Help Tennessee Small Businesses Recover from COVID Economic Disaster

In March 2020, America shut down, not because there was a world war but because there was a global epidemic that caught us flatfooted. Due to the restrictions that followed, many businesses had to shut down with the hope that it would be a temporary thing. As weeks became months, these businesses started bleeding and had to start laying off their employees causing many to file, rightly so, for unemployment benefits. By the time the government's Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan became fully implemented, many employers and employees realized that it was not going to be of benefit to them long term because it only protected the payroll for two and a half months. Thus, for some employees, it was smarter to get the unemployment check than the PPP check. For an employer, it is a loan with so many conditions hence why take it on.

As a result, many Tennesseans have been hurting financially most of the year with many out of job, facing eviction or foreclosure. In fact the impact has been disproportionately felt in rural areas and amongst minorities. What is further problematic is that we know that a lot of these businesses are probably never coming back. That should not be the case- we can not accept the withering away of our private sector as it has been the bedrock of our economy. The solution to America's and in particular Tennessee's economic recovery from COVID is a boom in the small business sector. More Americans need to be entrepreneurs and be able to own their own small businesses, such that we can adapt to any economic wave that comes our way.

As such, I would like to see an environment that creates a conducive atmosphere for small businesses to thrive. For example, the PPP should have been a grant and not a loan to start with. Likewise, the government should not have hidden public health data showing low numbers of infections, just to justify keeping a business sector closed. As a small business owner, I was in the driver's seat when the pandemic hit and I know I was able to make critical adjustments that I would not have been able to make if I was an employee.

To be clear, I am not in any way saying being an employee or working in the public sector is not good. In contrast, what I am saying is that having a small business as your main income or extra income gives more financial security and would be the leverage needed for us to recover from COVID, economically. Thus, we do not have to wait for an employer to call us back- we grow our small business to put food on the table and pay the bills.

Yomi Faparusi, MD. PhD, J.D., Independent Candidate for Tennessee U.S. Senate

Independent • Traditional • Principled