President Joe Biden traveled to Pennsylvania on Wednesday and visited a small Black-owned business in the city of Chester. The stop was part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Help Is Here” tour, focusing on how the new American Rescue Plan will provide relief to help support small business owners.
The president spent time at Smith Flooring Inc., a small business that supplies and installs flooring for clients that include schools. According to White House officials, revenue at Smith Flooring dipped 20 percent in 2020. The operation survived in part thanks to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 400,000 small businesses have closed and millions more are hanging by a thread. The American Rescue Plan will provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers, and purchase the health and sanitation equipment necessary to keep workers safe.
“This is a great outfit. This is a union shop,” said Biden during his visit, noting that he grew up near Chester, which has a Black mayor and about 33,000 residents. He praised the operation as one where workers “can make a living wage, a decent wage.”
Co-owned by Kristin and James Smith, Smith Flooring currently has 12 employees and as many as 24 workers during peak times. They received the original installment of PPP in April 2020, and a second installment this month, according to officials.
Smith Flooring is using the second PPP loan, which it received during the two-week exclusivity period for small businesses with 20 or fewer employees, to retain workers and upgrade technology.
“Thank you for your being who you are. Thank you for helping the small business—[a] small minority business,” co-owner Kristin Smith told the president. “It means a lot that you came to see our business. …And so we’re just grateful. We’re grateful for the things that you’re doing.”
The “Help Is Here” tour will highlight assistance for small businesses in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff met with small business owners in Denver, Colorado. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough also visited a local restaurant in Washington, D.C. owned by a Marine veteran.