Howard Schultz and more than 100 CEOs urge Congress to save small businesses with relief bill

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at a shareholder meeting in 2017. (GeekWire Photo)

As negotiations to reach a deal on a coronavirus aid package stall and restart in Washington, D.C., more than 100 leaders of businesses big and small are urging politicians to get a deal done. Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks, is leading the effort with a letter to Congressional leaders on Monday.

“Small businesses are too critical to our country’s economic strength to let fail,” the letter read. “From retailers and restaurants to consulting firms and manufacturers, small business owners are facing a future of potential financial ruin that will make the nation’s current economic downturn last years longer than it must.”

Schultz is joined by such Seattle-area CEOs as Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Dan Levitan (Maveron), Raj Singh (Accolade), Jim Sinegal (Costco), Elise Worthy (Kids on 45th), Darryl Rawlings (Trupanion), Richard Galanti (Costco), Michael Howell (Dolly), and Kevin Johnson (Starbucks). The leaders of Walmart, Alphabet, Facebook, McDonald’s, IBM and more also signed.

The company executives said an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program would be helpful, but more significant and sustained support is needed. They call for federally guaranteed loans, at favorable terms, that will enable small businesses to transform and sustain themselves; flexibility in how loan funds are used; partial loan forgiveness; and more.

“By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon,” the letter reads. “Allowing small businesses to fail will turn temporary job losses into permanent ones. By year end, the domino effect of lost jobs — as well as the lost services and lost products that small businesses provide — could be catastrophic.”

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