Congressman Cohen Urges House Leadership to Prioritize Minority-Owned Businesses in Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

August 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON --  Monday, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) sent a letter to House leadership saying that the next COVID-19 stimulus package should mandate that lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) prioritize minority-owned businesses and require the disclosure of loan recipients to ensure accountability and compliance new study from Accountable U.S. found that business owners in congressional districts with the largest Black populations saw nearly $13 billion less in PPP funding than districts with the smallest Black populations. See Congressman Cohen’s letter here. 

The letter reads in part: 

“I’m writing to express significant concerns regarding the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) administration of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the lack of access minority-owned businesses have had to the loan program.

“In addition to the SBA Inspector General concluding that private lenders were not directed to prioritize minority-owned businesses as Congress intended, it was also reported that the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that there were disparities in the way white and Black applicants were treated.  They found ‘different levels of encouragement to apply for loans, different products offered, and different information provided by bank representatives.’

“In my own district, which is comprised of a constituency that is 63.8% black and 28.2% white, there were only 4,878 loans given out for a total amount of $132,808,990.  Meanwhile, every other district in Tennessee received a significantly higher amount of loans and funding including our neighboring district, which received 12,815 loans for a total of $366,448,827. 

“These disparities are unacceptable.