Philadelphia, PA − October 30, 2020 − Sen. Anthony H. Williams sent the following letter to Gov. Wolf on CARES Funding for Small Businesses:
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage Pennsylvania, especially in low-income communities of color, my district has – for the second time this year – been the site of public anguish over the police shooting of a Black man. While the pain and anger felt by many Philadelphians is real, some have unfortunately used the legitimate protests to wreak havoc in the streets, vandalizing and looting local businesses. Some of these businesses were similarly affected by looting in June. I’m writing today to request that you designate CARES Act funding directly to these small business owners who have been doubly hit by both the civil unrest and the pandemic.
Across the Commonwealth, small businesses – barbershops, salons, restaurants, corner stores – are struggling to pay their bills and keep their doors open. The General Assembly worked with you and your administration to begin providing relief through the Pennsylvania CARES Act, but demand for resources has far outpaced the supply of relief. It’s been difficult enough just ensuring the safety of customers and employees, but now many business owners in my community are facing huge bills for repairs and to replace inventory.
The businesses in my district are designated as “historically-disadvantaged,” a political term of art to describe Black- and Brown- owned businesses, as well as those owned by women. These entrepreneurs, in many cases immigrants or first-generation Americans, are the lifeblood of the neighborhood economy. Not only do they provide essential goods and services, they also make up the fabric of our close-knit social community. We cannot let these businesses fail due to a confluence of factors well beyond their control.
I urge you to consider this request with care, given the unique circumstances that the small business community in my district face. Without some form of direct relief from the Commonwealth, these crucial community institutions will be just another casualty of this pandemic. My constituents and neighbors can’t wait for a federal stimulus that is always promised but never comes – they need bold, decisive action from us now.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.
Anthony H. Williams State Senator – 8th District