Cantwell Presses Treasury Secretary, SBA Administrator to Get More COVID-19 Relief to WA Small Businesses & Aerospace Supply Chain

Cantwell: Support small businesses with fewer than ten employees; “let’s not forget those that are getting left behind”; Senator also presses Secretary Mnuchin to use CARES Act funding to support companies throughout aerospace manufacturing supply chain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at a Senate Small Business Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza to make COVID-19 relief funds more accessible to small businesses throughout Washington state and around the country.

In her questions, Cantwell asked Carranza and Mnuchin to better support small businesses with ten or fewer employees in getting funding. As part of her push on the issue, she also sent a letter to Carranza and Mnuchin emphasizing the importance of access to capital and highlighting the success of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

“Access to capital is a persistent issue for small businesses,” Cantwell said. “And one of the great things I was proud our side focused on was this CDFI issue. I can see in my state, where the CDFIs are basically getting out and marketing themselves and getting access to capital to, frankly, small businesses that just got turned down by banks. So I know you can’t guarantee how banks operate, but obviously this has been a problem and we need to figure out solutions.

Cantwell highlighted that women- and minority-owned businesses already have “a pervasive problem with access to capital,” and that the committee should prioritize helping the smallest small businesses receive relief funding moving forward.

“There are a lot of women and minorities that are small businesses under ten employees, and again, how do they keep that business going if they don’t have access to capital. So I hope in this next round we’ll prioritize that, and I hope both of you will agree with that,” Cantwell said. SBA Administrator Carranza indicated that she agreed.  

There are more than 26 million small businesses with fewer than 10 employees across the country, including over 511,000 in Washington state that represent 94.5% of businesses in the state. Women- and minority-owned small businesses are particularly likely to be among those with fewer than 10 employees. In Washington, 97.9% of women-owned businesses and 98.5% of Black-owned businesses have fewer than 10 employees.

Also in the hearing, Cantwell pressed Mnuchin to make companies throughout the commercial aerospace supply chain eligible for the $17 billion in loans to businesses critical to national security established under the CARES Act. Her questioning comes after she wrote a letter to Mnuchin last month urging him to expand the allocation of these CARES Act loans to include the entire aerospace supply chain and the workforce of those companies.

“Keeping the commercial supply chain is critical to our national security, because if we don’t have an aviation sector, it’s going to impact us,” Cantwell said.

“We want the dollars to go out the door to someone who is in the supply chain who is making commercial manufacturing parts for the supply chain. We think that those dollars should be eligible to them.”

The aerospace sector in Washington state employs 136,000 workers throughout the supply chain. A 2018 study on the economic impact of the aerospace industry in the state estimated that it generated $19 billion in labor income and $89 billion in business revenue in 2017.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza is available HERE and audio is available HERE.