“Congresswoman Luria wanted to hear from the business community about the impact the coronavirus is having on businesses,” said Bryan K. Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
“The primary focus of this call is to get local businesses up and running during this time of crisis,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA 2nd District). On Thursday, April 2, 2020, business leaders from across the 757 participated in a telephone forum with Congresswoman Luria, regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The cashiers, medical workers, and grocery store clerks are the unsung heroes, providing services, so everyone in the community has access to everyday needs,” said Luria.
During the conference call, Stephens moderated questions from business leaders for Congresswoman Luria. Stephens asked if and when a fourth stimulus package will be available. Luria said, “A fourth stimulus package is certainly a possibility.” Luria told participants that she and other congress members are actively listening and being engaged in their communities to figure out a fourth stimulus package.
“The next time the house and senate are in session is April 20, and this presents challenges with the current time frame. However, please know that these conversations are ongoing among congress members,” said Luria. “Congressman Bobby Scott and I are continuously talking amongst the Virginia delegation, with the governor, and local mayors to get feedback for a fourth stimulus package.”
Georgie Marquez, Co-Founder of Andre + Marquez Architects, asked Luria about the payroll protection program (PPP). Marquez asked what oversight the federal government will have over lending institutions participating in the program. “What is the interest they will be allowed to charge for these loans?” asked Marquez.
Luria replied, “Under the PPP, the interest rate for loans is 0.5%. There was a previous type of loan that already existed, the economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration (SBA).” Luria also said that under the PPP, the treasury’s goal is for all banks that are FDIC insured to be eligible to participate. She encouraged Marquez to email email@example.com for additional questions and further assistance.
Bob Pizzini, CEO of iFly Virginia Beach Indoor Skydiving, asked Luria about the measures in place for a possible spike in COVID-19 cases in Hampton Roads. Luria said, “Actions are being taken locally in case of a COVID-19 spike.” She noted that the most recent number of cases in Virginia Beach has increased to 111, whereas yesterday it was 88. “This is the largest jump in the Virginia Beach area that we’ve seen in one day,” said Luria.
The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing in the 757, and “Fortunately, these numbers are not at the rate of New York or California.” Luria told leaders that modeling and analysis are being done to anticipate spikes in cases. “I think everyone in the medical field and localities are evaluating their resources in case there is a peak.”
Another question referencing Governor Northam’s stay at home order came from Martin Joseph, CEO of 360 IT Partners. Joseph asked how businesses with less than 50 employees will be eligible to apply for benefits and loans during this time of hardship. Luria replied, “I have an answer, but it may not be the best response. We are still working on provisions and benefit exceptions, and I encourage you and others to call 757-364-7650 with questions about business programs or provisions within the CARES Act.”
Emily Hasty, Executive Director of Government Affairs, Hampton Roads Chamber, asked whether 501 (c)(6) organizations, such as the Chamber, will be included in a fourth stimulus package. “I want to point out to anyone on the call that 501 (c)(3) and 501 (c)(6) organizations, like the Chamber that play a critical role in helping the businesses that are trying to get through this are a part of the package. I certainly would like to advocate for including those organizations in the next package,” said Luria.
Dr. Scott Miller, President of Virginia Wesleyan University, also asked if there will be more significant assistance for higher education in the next stimulus package. “Knowing that when we get through this, there will be a rush to higher education and many of the parents and students won’t have the funds,” said Miller. Congresswoman Luria agreed there is a significant financial need, and Congress will likely address this in the next package.
Former Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, thanked Congresswoman Luria for her efforts. McDonnel asked about companies that have employees at multiple locations and can’t meet the 500-person threshold for some of the financial opportunities. Luria thanked him for this insight and said she would see if Congress can better address this in the next package.
In closing, Congresswoman Luria thanked the Hampton Roads Chamber for setting up the phone call, as well as the local business leaders who participated. “I understand that this is a difficult time for small businesses, and I think the focus of the CARES Act was to make something workable for small businesses. Putting together something so large in such a short time frame certainly has secondary and tertiary effects,” said Luria. She encouraged business leaders to visit her website, www.luria.house.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to call 757-364-7650 with questions and concerns.
“Thank you for your leadership,” said Stephens. He thanked Congresswoman Luria and her staff for their help. Stephens also encouraged those on the call to utilize the Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource Guide. “Our goal is to continue to set the conditions for businesses to succeed, especially now in times of distress,” ended Stephens.
The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to support the business community, our members, and the community during this time of crisis. We are a powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor, impactful advocate, and regional collaborator.