It’s ‘paramount’ to help small businesses amid the coronavirus

Small businesses are getting crushed as the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise in the U.S. According to JPMorgan Chase’s research, small businesses have on average just 14 days of liquidity. 

Time is running out. Earlier this week, the bank made a $50 million commitment to help small businesses and nonprofits to address some of the challenges from the COVID-19 global pandemic.  

Janis Bowdler, president of JPMorgan Chase Foundation, told Yahoo Finance the firm is working with partners in cities around the world to offer flexible capital to small businesses. “We are getting $8 million into their hands as quickly as possible so that they can make no or low interest loans to small businesses. We also recognize in a dynamic environment, there are a lot of new regulations like how do you implement paid sick leave if you haven’t had to do that before. So we’ll make sure that there are some technical advisers available to support small businesses trying to adapt to a new environment,” Bowdler said.

Bowdler believes that there’s a “huge” role for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to play in the current crisis. “We stand ready to partner with them as we think together about how to get capital into the hands … [of] small businesses that desperately need it,” Bowdler said. So moving as quickly as possible is “paramount,” added Bowdler.

A “closed” sign is seen at a door of a Bar in March 18, 2020 in New York City. – The coronavirus outbreak has transformed the US virtually overnight from a place of boundless consumerism to one suddenly constrained by nesting and social distancing. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

JPMorgan Chase says it’s prepared for this type of scenario. Bowdler encourages customers of the bank that are experiencing hardship to give them a call. 

“We’re heartbroken about the impact of COVID-19 in our communities that we’ve worked really hard in a period of unprecedented economic growth to make sure that they’re well positioned to share in that prosperity. And now we know that those same families are going to be impacted the hardest. So we’re moving quickly to try to make sure they have the resources that they need, seeing an impact already. Certainly we have an ear to the ground with our nonprofit partners. We know that people are experiencing disruption in their work lives. They have mounting expenses related to this,” Bowdler said. 

‘Banking really is critical infrastructure’

Non-profit organizations are also resource strapped. Of the $50 million, $15 million will go “directly to nonprofits working on the ground trying to get support to those closest to the problem,” said Bowdler.

JPMorgan Chase is also helping out its employees. The bank announced Friday that it was giving up to $1,000 to its “front-line employees” who need to go into the branches to service the customers. Bowdler said “banking really is critical infrastructure and [we are] so proud of our colleagues who just moved into rapid response as soon as possible. We really are there for our customers, clients and our communities. And our employees. Of course, we want to make sure they’re taken care of. This is the firm that we are and the kind of thing we want to be prepared to do in a crisis situation like we’re experiencing now.”

The coronavirus pandemic and the market selloff is all happening at a time while Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase Chairman & CEO, is recovering from emergency heart surgery. An unnamed source told Reuters on Thursday that Dimon was recovering well and could possibly return in mid-April.

“He’s doing great. Jamie is a formidable leader. We all are excited about his speedy recovery and happy to have him as helm of the firm,” said Bowdler.

Lulu Chiang is a senior executive producer at Yahoo Finance.

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