Billionaire Mark Cuban told us his plan to save America's entrepreneurs now that the federal relief fund has run dry - and the biggest disasters the government must fix immediately
- In less than 13 days, all $349 billion allocated for small business relief under the CARES Act were used up.
- But the funds barely scratch the surface of the 60 million employers and freelancers who were expected to apply.
- Mark Cuban told Business Insider that major changes need to be implemented to address the problems with the most recent package.
- Before the next round of funding, Cuban says businesses will need enough money to cover an extended re-opening period as well as an effective testing strategy that instills confidence in returning workers.
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Following a rocky rollout of the Payroll Protection loan program, all $349 billion of the funds allocated for small businesses in the $2 trillion CARES Act have been committed - and Mark Cuban says it's too late to save many of America's small businesses.
"I think we missed the window of opportunity to pay small businesses to keep their employees," said the Dallas entrepreneur in an email with Business Insider.
With the limit now reached, the program is grinding to a halt as lenders no longer have a federal guarantee backing the loans and millions of applicants remain in need of relief.
The primary goal of the program - to enable small businesses to retain their workers - is now in serious jeopardy in an employment landscape that has seen more than 22 million new jobless claims in recent weeks.
As Congress discusses a fourth package of relief and stimulus funding, Cuban says some major changes need to be made to address the problems facing small businesses and their workers.
'The mechanics of the program are now out of wack'
The PPP's intent was solid: compensate workers by incentivizing employers to keep them on payroll, rather than sending them into the overburdened unemployment system. But, "the mechanics of the program are now out of wack," Cuban said, because businesses need more time.
PPP loans only cover eight weeks of payroll and operating costs, but as of mid-April many businesses have already been treading water for half that time. Cuban says those who have been approved for loans could still run out of money before they're even able to reopen their doors.
"Employers need this money to bring people back in a manner that allows the funding to cover re-opening of their companies," he said.
The next phase of relief will need more than just increased funding. It will also need to cover costs for businesses over a longer period of time. If it doesn't, employers will have to reduce wages or hours, and some workers may prefer to remain on unemployment.
Effective testing is needed to build trust
Testing isn't simply a health necessity; it's also needed to reopen the economy. In order to get people back to work, Cuban said employers need the ability to go beyond providing a safe environment - they'll need to ensure workers feel safe, too.
Furloughed or unemployed workers may be reluctant to rejoin their former businesses if they think there's a likelihood of getting sick, especially if they will have new coworkers.
"Many of those people won't come back if the employer brings in new workers to replace those who prefer to stay on unemployment because of their concern they may get infected by the new, unknown individuals," Cuban said.
In order to address these concerns, a testing strategy that inspires confidence among workers is essential. That will require a coordinated effort between government and private sector leaders, as well as a substantial amount of new funding.
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