Bruce Katz, Andrew Petrisin and Luise Noring · May 28
Five weeks ago, we wrote about the shortcomings of the US response to the COVID-19 public health and small business crises and the need for a structural response, particularly the recommitment to, and rebuilding of, our institutions at the local, inter-local, federalist, and federal levels. Given the unprecedented fiscal impact of the crisis, we see the need for a respected federalist intermediary to address the third wave of this crisis—the oncoming state and local fiscal meltdown.
Bruce Katz, Michael Saadine and Colin Higgins · May 20
On April 8, the three of us — along with two close colleagues, Rick Jacobs and Jamie Rubin — published a piece entitled Needed: A Main Street Emergency Act. Our thesis was stark and straightforward. The COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc on small businesses across cities, suburban municipalities, and rural towns, particularly micro businesses that employ fewer than 20 employees and offer services vital for our communities. The local relief funds established by public, private and civic stakeholders, while fit to purpose, are already oversubscribed and undercapitalized. And the federal responses enacted as part of the CARES Act are already proving to be insufficient in scale, timing, product and distribution scope to address the needs of Main Street businesses.
Bruce Katz, Frances Kern Mennone, Michael Saadine and Colin Higgins · May 13
The COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc on Main Street small businesses across the United States. Millions of small businesses have shuttered for the duration of the crisis. The hardest hit are Main Street enterprises living on the brink — restaurants, bars, coffee shops, barbershops, hair salons, auto repair shops, dry cleaners and others that provide face-to-face services. These entities, usually sole proprietorships or businesses with fewer than 20 or even 5 employees are running out of cash or already broke. Micro businesses owned by people of color are most at risk, given decades of redlining and structural racism in the financial industry.
Bruce Katz, Mary Jean Ryan, Jessica A. Lee and Courtney Kishbaugh · May 7
The numbers are simply staggering. As of April 30, 30 million Americans had filed for unemployment since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. As the United States slowly begins to re-open, the only certainty is that our uncertainty about how best to contain the contagion rules out any quick economic rebound. For the foreseeable future, our economy will stumble through a slow thaw and millions of people will be out of work. Now is the time to help these unemployed workers and young first-time college students acquire the skills they will need to thrive in our tech-powered economy.
Bruce Katz, Beth Bafford, Ross Baird, Michael Saadine, Colin Higgins · May 1
Resetting the Landscape
Weeks ago, as the extent of COVID-19’s effects on the economy were becoming a reality, we wrote that the sequencing and deployment of small business relief would be “messy and chaotic” rather than “linear”. Four weeks and one update of the CARES Act later, the situation remains as murky as ever: the spread of the virus is not yet under control, state responses are uncoordinated, and unemployment claims continue to climb.
Bruce Katz, Frances Kern Mennone and Gunnar Branson · April 23
As the demand for re-opening the economy takes hold, we must now think about how this will play out on the ground, particularly in those places — our downtowns and central business districts — that form the cores of our cities and metropolitan areas. Central business districts are not only centers of commerce but also hubs of cultural and civic life. Visible signs of revival in these places will go a long way towards accelerating the restoration of public and consumer confidence. By contrast, the persistent presence of empty streets and shuttered shops — buildings intact, but little life within them and few “feet on the street” — will retard the broader revival.
Bruce Katz, Luise Noring and Andrew Petrisin · April 16
History teaches us that crises lead to institutional transformation. The United States is no exception and has a long history of new federal institutions being created in the aftermath of crises: The New Deal in response to the Great Depression, the Homeland Security Administration after 9/11, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following the housing crash of 2008/2009.
Bruce Katz, Rick Jacobs, Jamie Rubin, Michael Saadine and Colin Higgins · April 8
The COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc on Main Street small businesses across the United States. Across the U.S. tens of thousands of small businesses have closed for the duration of the crisis. The hardest hit are local face-to-face Main Street services — restaurants, bars, coffee shops, barbershops, hair salons, auto repair shops, dry cleaners and others that are living on the brink. These entities, usually sole proprietorships or businesses with fewer than 25, 10 or even 5 employees are running out of cash or already broke.
Bruce Katz, Michael Saadine and Colin Higgins · April 1
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc on small businesses across the country, local and national actors have begun to realize the enormity of the economic challenge at hand. Shortly after a record high 3.3 million in weekly unemployment claims were announced, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. The race to save our small businesses is on, and it promises to be a challenging one.
Bruce Katz and Ben Speggen · March 25
The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and the places where they co-locate and concentrate — downtown, Main Streets, commercial corridors — has been immediate and devastating.
“Almost overnight, downtowns have eerily become lifeless movie sets — literally former shells of their former selves; the buildings are intact (unlike after a flood), but there is little or no business being transacted given the imperative of social distancing and the collapse of basic consumerism,” we contend in our new report, “Why Erie’s Downtown is a Proxy for the Nation: The Future of Main Street Businesses amidst the Covid-19 Crisis.” “If we can keep businesses alive, then the bounce back will be rapid and pronounced. If businesses collapse, then the recovery will be slow and painful.”