As I sit here on the day of the launch of the most comprehensive small business stimulus program in our nation’s history in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, my mind turns to the small business owners. Starting today, business owners can start applying for loans that are forgivable under the Small Business Administration’s $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program as long as those businesses maintain payroll to most of their staff and use the funds for eligible expenses.
You’ve heard that small businesses are the heartbeat of the U.S. economy, the statistics back that up – small business represents a 47% of all employees and generate 43.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
More than their contributions to our economy, small business owners and their employees are the pillars of our communities, providing products, services, entertainment, and more. After the last few weeks, I think we can all appreciate the role small business plays in each of our lives.
We, at Experian, take our purpose very seriously – creating a better tomorrow by creating opportunities for businesses to succeed.
One thing we can count on in America is that small business owners rise to a challenge, it’s in the foundation of this great nation. Small business owners have the passion, fortitude, and downright grit to take them through the most challenging times – this time will be no exception.
But I also know that now and then a little help is needed, and right now we need to help small business owners who are dealing with the immediate implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning today, an unprecedented level of government support will be made available through the Small Business Administration and other government bodies.
At Experian, we applaud the signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) as it’s a great step toward economic recovery. The CARES Act provides grants and loans to small businesses with an unprecedented loan forgiveness program.
We also feel an obligation to do our part to ensure that small businesses, who are dealing with the immediate implications of this economic crisis, have additional resources at their disposal to make informed decisions at this critical time. That’s why I’m proud to share that we have made available to every small business in the United States free access to their Experian Business Credit report until May 1st. Small business owners can get their reports at www.freecompanycredit.com.
We also feel a deep obligation to our clients, the lenders, trade creditors, utilities, insurance underwriters, and more as they strive to support small businesses during this time. To further help small businesses gain access to capital they need, Experian also launched its free COVID-19 U.S. Business Risk Index to assist lenders and government organizations in understanding how to make lending options available to the business segments that need it the most. This new risk index can help business risk professionals better understand the impact that the pandemic may have on commercial operations based on several key factors. We also hope that our data and advanced analytics enable our clients to offer fair and responsible lending to small businesses that need it most during this time.
I’ll close by urging the small business community to please take advantage of accessing your free Experian business credit report while continuing to show the grit and innovative spirit that has helped make America the most robust economy in the world. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from Arianna Huffington, “Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.”