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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07)

***Click Here for a Recording of the Conversation***

HENRICO, V.A. – Last week, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger held a virtual conversation with ChamberRVA President and CEO Brian Anderson to discuss the best practices, tools, and support that are available to Central Virginia small business owners as they work to instill consumer confidence and reopen responsibly.

As Governor Northam’s phased reopening plan progresses, many local small businesses are unsure what their next steps should be to protect their employees and their customers. ChamberRVA and a coalition of regional jurisdictions and organizations have launched an initiative called “ForwardRVA” to equip retail store operators, restaurateurs, independent physicians’ offices, and other small businesses with the knowledge and tangible tools they need to reopen safely. This effort represents a coalition of Richmond-region business owners, community leaders, and government officials who are focused on creating an innovative and forward-looking framework for the COVID-19 response in the weeks and months to come. Through a combination of digital tools, such as links to industry association recommendations, and physical tools, like kits of personal protective equipment and “We are open” yard signs, “ForwardRVA” is designed to help small business overcome practical hurdles and knowledge gaps that may stand in the way of a smooth and safe reopening.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the interconnected nature of our regional economy, and the importance of working together to achieve positive outcomes for everyone. That same spirit of cooperation, community, and civic responsibility will be essential as we tackle the next chapter of this challenge – reopening our economy and safely frequenting our local small businesses,” said Spanberger. “A key factor in kickstarting our regional economy will be building confidence among consumers by ensuring that the businesses they are visiting are taking all necessary precautions to keep customers safe. ChamberRVA plays an important role in bolstering that confidence by supporting business owners in their goals to reopen safely. Since this crisis began and businesses were forced to close their doors, I have been seeking out the input and feedback of our local entrepreneurs and business leaders. Discussions like this are vitally important as I work to advocate for Virginia businesses and employees, make federal programs like the Paycheck Protection Program more flexible and practical for people on the ground, and make sure businesses are receiving the public health and workplace safety guidance they need to protect their customers and employees. I thank ChamberRVA for their partnership as we continue working to strengthen our economy and foster a business culture that is earnestly committed to the safety of our communities.”

“ChamberRVA and the coalition partners in ‘ForwardRVA’ are committed to engaging with our local businesses in reopening the economy not just quickly, but safely and properly,” said Brian Anderson, President & CEO, Chamber RVA. “We have assembled a comprehensive kit of resources, both digital and physical, that will equip Richmond-area small businesses with the confidence to reopen their doors in a manner that protects their employees and their customers. We thank Rep. Spanberger for her work on important legislation like the CARES Act and her continued push for greater flexibility in federal programming like the Paycheck Protection Program. We appreciate her continued efforts engaging directly with Central Virginia businesses, and look forward to continuing this conversation in the weeks to come.”  

ChamberRVA serves nine jurisdictions in Central Virginia – Ashland, Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan, and the City of Richmond – and they have taken care to incorporate gateway regions into “ForwardRVA”’s focus. Through the “ForwardRVA” website, businesses can access digital tools like a reopening checklist, guides to mandatory requirements and recommended best practices broken down by industry, and informational resources to print and display. In addition to their online platform, “ForwardRVA” has distributed nearly 2,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) toolkits to local businesses. These include gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer, to ensure that business owners and workers can begin preparing to welcome back customers safely.

BACKGROUND

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Central Virginia, Spanberger has sought input directly from impacted business owners and workers, and amplified their interests in the U.S. House’s response legislation. Last month, Spanberger focused her fourth COVID-19 telephone town hall on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses and the local workforce.

Spanberger has worked to improve flexibility and cut red tape in the Paycheck Protection Program. After repeatedly pushing SBA Administrator Carranza & Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to make commonsense changes, Spanberger voted with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority to pass the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which corrects the burdensome 75/25 rule. President Trump signed this legislation into law last week.

She voted in favor of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March – the legislation which created the Paycheck Protection Program – and later voted to pass additional emergency funding for small businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in April.

Additionally, Spanberger has consistently led a bipartisan coalition of voices calling on the IRS to expedite their massive backlog of cases, working to get rightfully-earned tax refund dollars back into the pockets of Virginia entrepreneurs and consumers as quickly as possible.  

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