In A Crisis Year, The Voice Of Small Business Spoke Loud And Clear – And We Were Heard
When 2020 started, small business optimism was at near-record highs, with monthly NFIB Small Business Optimism Index readings among the highest in the Index’s 46-year history. While each year has its challenges for small business owners, no one expected a pandemic and unprecedented government shutdowns leading to an economic collapse. At every stage of this crisis, NFIB has fought tirelessly to secure the relief and resources that America’s small businesses deserve.
The full range of NFIB’s 2020 activities is too long to list here. They include efforts by the Small Business Legal Center, NFIB Research Center, Federal and State Government Relations teams, Political and PAC teams, Media Relations, and every department.
With further challenges looming in 2021, small businesses nationwide will benefit from NFIB membership. If you’re a small business owner and aren’t a member, join us and discover the difference immediately.
Here are some of the highlights from NFIB’s record of results in 2020:
From the outset of the pandemic, it was clear that small businesses needed relief. That became even more clear as politicians began implementing draconian business shutdowns and restrictions.
NFIB took our members’ message to the White House and Congress, keeping small business at center stage in the discussion and securing key victories that have helped enable small business survival.
- Paycheck Protection Program. NFIB played a pivotal role in the passage of the CARES Act in March, which created the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP offers $660 billion in forgivable loans that small businesses can use to pay workers, make rent and utilities payments, and meet other financial obligations. Approximately 80 percent of small businesses have utilized this program.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Grants. NFIB’s lobbying helped extend the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to the pandemic, providing small businesses with low-interest loans. NFIB also helped secure EIDL advance grants of up to $10,000 per small business.
- PPP Expansion. Initially, the PPP provided $349 billion, which was quickly distributed to applicants and quickly exhausted. NFIB led the charge to refill the program with an additional $320 billion. NFIB also pushed to extend the application deadline, succeeding in moving it from June to August – another win for small business.
- PPP Flexibility. After the PPP’s passage, NFIB worked hard to make it better. Our actions resulted in an extension of the timeline the loans could cover, from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. We also secured additional flexibility on payroll requirements for PPP loans, which dropped from 75% to 60%.
- Year-End Recovery Legislation Passed Congress and Signed Into Law Including Several NFIB Member Priorities:
- Providing targeted additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding for struggling small businesses, a vital financial assistance tool proven to be a lifeline during this time of uncertainty and government-imposed shutdowns and restrictions.
- Protecting small businesses from surprise tax increase next year by allowing small businesses to deduct the expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans, something the IRS had ruled they could not do.
- Simplifying the loan forgiveness process, allowing small businesses who received a loan of $150,000 or less to attest to a good faith effort to comply with PPP loan requirements and obtain forgiveness.
- Separating PPP loans and EIDL emergency advance grants so small businesses can benefit from both.
The verdict is clear: NFIB’s around-the-clock legislative outreach, lobbying, and public relations campaigns helped secure financial lifelines for millions of small businesses.
Beyond Washington, D.C., NFIB shifted into overdrive in all 50 states. The result: Numerous legislative and regulatory wins that will help small business for years to come.
- Unemployment Insurance. NFIB has stopped tax hikes on small business by successfully pushing states to rebuild their Unemployment Insurance trust funds using federal funding provided by the CARES Act. Some 19 states acted on NFIB’s request. Those states UI funds are now in stronger financial shape, which means small businesses are less likely to face devastating tax hikes at a time when many are already struggling.
- Liability Protections. NFIB has relentlessly pushed for state lawmakers to protect small businesses from frivolous pandemic-related lawsuits by opportunistic trial lawyers. Our efforts have borne fruit, with 15 states enacting liability shields. NFIB also continues to push for liability protections at the federal level.
Member Support and Services
The pandemic and resulting government shutdowns and restrictions have left virtually every small business asking questions about how to comply with the law and apply for relief. With state and federal agencies providing too little guidance, NFIB stepped up to ensure our members had the most accurate and actionable information.
Virtually overnight, NFIB became the #1 resource for small business. Between March and December, NFIB hosted over 200 webinars, many attended by thousands of owners, and NFIB.com became a central hub for pandemic-related news and updates, experiencing record traffic through much of the year.
NFIB’s resources and tools proved instrumental for countless small businesses, helping them apply for PPP loans, EIDL loans, and EIDL advances. As NFIB member David Katseff said: “In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw NFIB was offering information on their website for small business owners and it was even better for me when they started doing informational webinars. They were able to address the problems and concerns of small business owners each week and provide great insight into what’s happening and what was new regarding applying for the Paycheck Protection Program and the forgiveness process. I sent at least a dozen emails to NFIB with a specific question relevant to me and I got an answer every time.”
Looking Forward to 2021
The coming year is guaranteed to bring even more challenges for small business. NFIB will build on its accomplishments of the previous year, fighting for small businesses not just to survive, but thrive.
NFIB will also fight for better outcomes on several policy fronts. This includes rolling back the so-called Corporate Transparency Act, which Congress quietly passed in December’s defense bill. It also means pushing for states to prevent unemployment insurance tax increases for employers, and to secure COVID-19 liability protections, as well as fight against new proposed business tax increases and further regulatory mandates at the state and federal levels.
With 2020 coming to a close, NFIB President Brad Close issued a call to action to small business:
“The past year proved that none of this would be possible without our members. We’re grateful for all the small business owners who enabled us to achieve so much on their behalf in such a difficult year. Through all of this, your commitment to not just persevere, but help lead our country and your communities, has been an inspiration to all of us at NFIB. While we have worked hard to make sure you have the information and resources you need to make important decisions about your business, it is through your efforts that America will see our economy thrive.”
Updated Dec. 28, 2020