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Pandemic Response: Perspectives from Small Business Borrowers

Wed, 2/17/2021 - 11:00AM EST - Wed, 2/17/2021 - 12:15PM EST

The second in a series of virtual panels with banking and financial services experts, this panel included speakers representing the perspective of small business borrowers and their experiences with the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.

The PRAC’s Financial Sector Oversight workgroup has organized a series of virtual panels with banking and financial services experts. The goal is to gather input and insights on the operation, efficiency, and effectiveness of CARES Act programs and the pandemic response efforts of the federal government and the Federal Reserve. Workgroup members also want to hear suggestions and ideas for areas that would benefit from enhanced oversight. Members of the PRAC’s Financial Sector Oversight Workgroup are inspectors general (IGs) responsible for the oversight of banking, lending, and housing programs.

Financial programs of the CARES Act include:

  • $350 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guaranties, subsidies, and loan programs for small businesses
  • Up to $500 billion authorized for loans, loan guarantees, and other investments to support eligible businesses, states, and municipalities, including emergency relief for qualifying medium-size businesses (500 – 10,000 employees)

Watch our other forums and get perspectives on how pandemic relief programs impacted lenders and borrowers through our Events page.

Items covered in the discussion: 

  • The experience of small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses, with the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans 
  • Lack of data collection on program recipients
  • Recommendations to improve communication between government agencies administering programs and their participants to better reach diverse audiences
  • Fraud, waste, and abuse in pandemic response programs

Event Overview and Summary

Moderators Sandra Bruce, Acting Inspector General for the Department of Education, and Rich Delmar, Acting Inspector General for the Department of the Treasury, provided opening remarks. Sandra Bruce and Rich Delmar provided closing remarks.

“We need to be around a table engaged before a crisis, so that a crisis should occur, we are better prepared and in better position to respond.”

– John Harmon


“When you’re a small business owner and you are unsure about the fate of your business, the last thing you want to do is take on more obligation. The lack of communication around how (PPP) loan forgiveness works has been rather problematic, and I think in some ways almost a disservice to the government in terms of the time they’ve spent trying to figure it out.”

– Rhett Buttle


“In some cases businesses are funding out of their pockets...they don’t have all the things the CARES Act needed in order to participate...those small businesses that are holding on by a string just didn’t get a chance to participate.”

– Larry Ivory

Remote video URL

Get perspectives on pandemic relief legislation directly from small business borrowers.


  • Larry Ivory, Chairman, National Black Chamber of Commerce and President & CEO, Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce
  • John Harmon, Sr., President & CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
  • Rhett Buttle, Co-Executive Director, Small Business Roundtable 
  • Ramiro A. Cavazos, President & CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce