MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) visited small businesses throughout southern Minnesota Tuesday to speak with local community leaders to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses.
Smith returns to Washington D.C. on Monday to continue work on a second stimulus package, including expanding federal testing strategies for COVID-19.
But before that work can begin, the senator spoke with local businesses and leaders in Montgomery, Waseca and Mankato about the issues facing rural communities during the pandemic.
“You can see that the economic crisis caused by COVID is really deep and a lot of small businesses are struggling to figure out how to pull themselves out of it,” said Smith. “I really believe that the best way forward is to put all of our efforts into figuring out how to contain this virus - that the economic answers will come from the public health answers.”
With consumer confidence slowly increasing in the region, businesses continue to adapt practices.
“This business has been successful, as have several businesses in town, but we all need to help,” said Waseca Mayor Roy Srp, who spoke of Trio Coffee, Wine and Ale House. “It’s great that we could meet in a downtown business today so that she could see firsthand what this business has had to do to combat COVID and still be vital and vibrant.”
The answer to whether Americans will see a second stimulus package remains uncertain, but Smith said her work is to ensure that businesses that were passed up for economic aid would see that expansive funding in the second round.
“I’ve heard from businesses today, and really all over the state, how helpful the Paycheck Protection Program has been and how it’s really been a lifeline for a lot of businesses,” Smith said. “But it also hasn’t gone far enough and I’ve heard from a lot of really small businesses that haven’t had a chance to tap into that yet. So when I go back to Washington, that’s going to be one of the things that I work on.”
Many benefits and programs available under the CARES Act expire at the end of July.