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A year ago, with the pandemic beginning to ravage the country, and our economy shutting down, the U.S. Chamber and the U.S. Chamber Foundation directed their people and resources to focus on helping small businesses.
Last April, we launched the Save Small Business Initiative, our commitment to helping small business recover and succeed. As we recover, we will continue fighting for small businesses–it's part of our DNA–with a continued focus on providing valuable information and effective advocacy.
Developed Small Business Resources
From the beginning of the pandemic, we developed practical content, advice, and answers when small businesses needed it the most. Here are some of our digital resource centers:
- Small business emergency assistance programs
- Reopening procedures and state-specific health and safety measures
- Vaccine concerns, including an FAQs guide for employers, an interactive state map with vaccine phase information, and communications best practices for employers seeking to promote vaccines to their employees and customers.
- The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Path Forward series offers expert insights into how we can reopen our businesses safely, driving economic recovery.
Don’t miss this recently published guide on tax credits in the American Rescue Plan designed to pay for time off for small business owners or their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Along with these resources, CO– by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been publishing articles, guides, and how-to's, covering everything small businesses need to survive and grow as they adapt to the new world of running a small business in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These were just what small business owners needed. “The U.S. Chamber has been a great pillar of support,” one owner told us. “We are using all of your small business resources. So valuable. Greatly appreciated.”
Another said, “The U.S. Chamber is possibly the best curator of information in the business world in general, but especially related to this crisis. Keep up the great work, keep fighting every angle for small businesses, and may God bless and protect you all!”
Launched the Save Small Business Fund
Last April, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched the Save Small Business Fund to deliver immediate financial assistance to small business owners who were reeling from shutdowns.
The Fund closed in October, having helped over 1,200 small businesses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico keep their doors open and their dreams alive.
Over 60% of grant recipients had six employees or less. 47% of businesses were minority-owned, and 46% were women-owned.
“When our restaurant reopened, I contracted COVID-19. So did my brother who also runs the restaurant with me. I was sick for three weeks. He was hospitalized for two weeks,” a Tennessee restaurant owner told the Foundation. “This grant came at the most crucial time, as we were able to pay our rent. You helped us survive and keep fighting.”
Watch this video to hear directly from grant recipients.
Helping Black Small Business Owners
We’ve also focused on helping Black small business owners who have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
Last September, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses was launched by the U.S. Chamber Foundation in partnership with American Express and the nation’s leading Black chambers of commerce. It’s a four-year initiative, distributing more than $13 million in grants along with longer-term mentorship and resources to Black small business owners across the country through 2023.
In its first year, the Coalition distributed grants to 600 Black small business owners located in 33 states. Nearly 60% of the grants went to women-owned businesses.
More than half (57%) of our grantees used the grant to pay utilities and other monthly bills to keep their businesses running. 53% used it to keep people employed, and 44% used the grant on rent to keep their doors open.
Select grantees will also receive a $25,000 enhancement grant to help take their business to the next level.
- The Coalition’s 2020 Impact Report
- Read the stories of Kim Roxie, founder of LAMIK Beauty in Houston, TX, and Virginia Sharp, co-owner of Daemarii’s Unique Boutique in Macon, GA.
- The Plug interviewed three Philadelphia-based business owners who received grants.
Fighting for Small Business in Washington
By the Numbers
Being a data-driven organization, here are some numbers showing the reach of our efforts:
- 8,000. Our #SaveSmallBusiness social media days of action drove over 2,500 advocates to send nearly 8,000 letters to Congress urging it to pass small business relief. Days later, Congress approved $310 billion in additional funding.
- 12 million. Across the digital properties of the U.S. Chamber and the U.S. Chamber Foundation, comprehensive guides, articles, and other materials generated 12 million views.
Looking ahead, the U.S. Chamber will continue fighting for small businesses and helping them recover and succeed. Working through efforts like the Rally for Recovery Commitment, we’re encouraging Americans to get vaccinated and help defeat COVID-19. At the same time, we will continue advocating for public policies–like rebuilding our infrastructure and immigration reform–that give businesses of all sizes the best chance to recover, grow, and create jobs.
We know the last year has been hard, but small businesses know the U.S. Chamber has been on their side and will continue to be there moving forward.