Home 2020 Elections ICYMI: Biden for President Virginia Hosts Virginia Small Business Build Back Better Virtual...

ICYMI: Biden for President Virginia Hosts Virginia Small Business Build Back Better Virtual Roundtable 


From the Biden/Harris campaign:

September 3, 2020

Biden for President Virginia Hosts Virginia Small Business Build Back Better Virtual Roundtable 

Today, Biden for President Virginia hosted a virtual roundtable with Congressman Don Beyer, Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves, former Virginia Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner, and Lester Johnson, owner of Mama J’s Restaurant in Richmond. The roundtable addressed how the Trump Administration’s failure to properly handle the pandemic has affected small business owners across the Commonwealth. Participants also discussed issues unique to small business owners of color and how Joe Biden will help communities and the economy recover from the pandemic and build back better.

Below are key quotes from the discussion:

“One of the things that we realized, very painfully but very clearly through this pandemic is that it certainly has not affected all people equally. If you are a person of color, if you had less wealth, if your home situation was not up to par, you are far more likely to die … We need a real wholesale fix of this now to overcome that enormous 10 to 1 wealth gap,” said Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08). “The dilemma with all these businesses being fragile is that the bigger, well-funded businesses can swoop them up, and we get a greater concentration of wealth … ever more employees, ever fewer small business owners. And that’s not good for any of us, including democracy.”

“Future President Biden and Vice President Harris have spent a lot of time looking at this issue. There are a few things that I know they’re looking at. One of them is an ambitious “restart package” that provides small business owners with support for retaining and rehiring workers as well as with some of the fixed costs that they’re experiencing,” said former Virginia Secretary of Finance & small business owner Jody Wagner. “That plan is to use the Virginia community college system, which as you know we have 23 community colleges throughout the state … almost half of them are people of color. And that plan is to establish free business development programs in each of those schools so that they can teach students and grown-up students how to take an idea and turn it into a business.”

“If the president and the leader of the free world had taken this [pandemic] seriously and not as a joke I think that we would probably be much closer to back to whatever normal is going to be. It’s just really frustrating when you can’t depend on the leadership in the White House to pay attention to the science and be concerned about taking the lives of Americans seriously,” said Councilwoman Angelia Williams Graves (Norfolk). “Once we get the White House under control, then we can get the virus under control … but if the White House is out of control then the virus is going to continue to be out of control and we’re going to continue to see people die and we’re going to continue to see small businesses struggle and close.”

“There are a lot of things that have failed, in my opinion because of a lack of leadership and hopefully we can make this pivot and get this country going back in the right direction,” said Lester Johnson, owner of Mama J’s Restaurant (Richmond). “With the heartache of what we’re dealing with, from a business standpoint, from a loss of life standpoint, I think Governor Northam has done a really good job, and that’s, again, the type of leadership, the steady look at certain situations based on the science and making good decisions that Joe Biden will bring to the national scene.”


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