Opinion: An open letter to our elected officials

It does not fall short on any of us that we are experiencing a double whammy - a health crisis and an economic crisis. 

I have read and listened to your thoughts and would like to add my perspective. We are a 6-year-old company comprised of 57 amazing team members and a big SBA loan that uses our home as collateral. In the face of this crisis, last week, my wife and I stopped taking a salary and this week the entire team followed suit. Our story is not unique.

As it relates to the economic crisis, the ONLY thing that matters is that our company survive to once again provide 57 paychecks to 57 families. To be clear, we can and should get money in the hands of everyone to buy groceries, medicine, and other necessities, but in the end, we all need to go back to work. ALL private enterprises exist to accomplish this.

The backbone of this country is small business. It is the St. Pete Bagel company, Bob Lee’s tires, Walter’s Lawn Service and the 4th Street Shrimp Store.  Small businesses like these are responsible for 45 percent of the total U.S. economic activity and comprise 41 percent of private-sector employment. Helping out here will be much harder than helping United Airlines, Home Depot, and Wells Fargo, but it is just as important. 

Small Business thoughts:
  • Speed is of the essence -- we do not have lines of credit or reserves; we need cash to prime the pump.
  • Tax credits do not help -- we will not make it that far.
  • Loans will not help -- that simply prolongs and defers our struggle.
  • Use the SBA and its lending partners to disperse cash -- NOW.  Create an easy formula for banks to follow; last year verified P&L, average total expense per month x2. 
  • Suspend all taxes and licensing for 6 months. We pay sales tax on rent in my state -- get rid of it. We pay an excise tax on manufacturing in my industry -- get rid of it. We pay tax on the payroll -- get rid of it. Give us six solid months to build up cash.
This is a very trusting ask and along the way, there will be bad actors. I understand. Prosecute them vigorously and move on. Please don’t lose sight of how much the good guys – small businesses like ours – need immediate action.

The cost of this to government is monumental, but this country was built on entrepreneurial spirit and it seems an easy jump that with a little help, it will be rebuilt on entrepreneurial spirit.

#1 priority today – conquer Coronavirus.

#2 priority today – bridge cash to individuals; we need to buy groceries.

#3 priority today – help private enterprise (we just need a boost).

Let’s get to work,

Mike Harting is CEO of 3 Daughters Brewing.