(Bloomberg) — Joe Biden’s campaign on Wednesday will seek to strike a contrast with President Donald Trump on the economy by highlighting the Democratic nominee’s commitment to helping small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign will initiate an advisory council on small businesses and entrepreneurship that includes the owner of a Miami empanada company, as well as former 2020 presidential candidates Andrew Yang and John Hickenlooper, who’s now running for Senate in Colorado.
Biden’s team will also begin to broadcast a set of four ads across Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania that feature owners who are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. A pair of Washington Post-ABC polls of voters in Arizona and Florida published Wednesday underscored that Trump’s strongest issue remains the national economy, despite disapproval of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former Vice President Biden has repeatedly raised concerns about the challenges that small businesses are facing, as well as their difficulty in accessing Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
“The fact is that we’re in a situation where right now an awful lot of small businesses, 50 or fewer employees, are going out of business because the $2 trillion in the acts that are passed by the Congress aren’t getting to them at all,” he said at a fundraiser Tuesday.
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In a survey last month, the National Federation of Independent Business found that 21% of small business owners expect to have to close if economic conditions don’t improve in the next six months. Another 19% said they would no longer be able to operate if current economic conditions continue for another seven to 12 months.
While the new Biden initiative doesn’t include new policy announcements, the campaign is using it as an opportunity to highlight the ideas for small businesses that Biden has already proposed, including new grants — instead of loans — and efforts to make sure that aid gets to concerns with 50 or fewer employees.
Biden’s team has also been hosting events for small business owners this week, including a training session for Latino owners featuring chef Jose Andres and a roundtable on Native American small businesses with former Small Business Administration head Karen Mills.
The campaign’s goal is that it becomes an effective way to build support for Biden and as well as get-out-the-vote efforts, since some small businesses play key roles in their communities. “We see a huge opportunity to organize in a unique way,” Rhett Buttle, the campaign’s national business adviser.
In a nod to Biden’s love of ice cream, the advisory council includes two ice-cream company founders, Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s. Daniel Lubetzky, the executive founder of Kind Snacks, and occasional guest on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” is part of the group. Mills and another former Obama administration SBA administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, are also on the panel, as is former Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Gregory and Subrina Collier, the owners of two restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina, are on the council and are to join Biden on Wednesday at what the campaign is calling a Black Economic Summit. The group also includes the president of an accounting firm in Cincinnati and the owner of a marketing business in Henderson, Nevada, among others.
“Because Donald Trump has really jumbled and mismanaged Covid-19, small business owners are really willing to step forward and talk about how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can be a good thing for the economy,” Buttle said.
(Updates with poll results on economy in third paragraph. An earlier version corrected the year Yang and Hickenlooper ran for president in second paragraph.)
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