COVID-19 Update: Stimulus Relief Is Coming As A Deal Is Made In Washington

By Desiree Homer

Relief may be on the way as both sides of the aisle agree to a $2 trillion stimulus package. The economy may be limping now, but a surge of spending and tax breaks may help prop up businesses large and small. This historic package is comprised of several key relief elements, including immediate funding of hospitals and healthcare providers. There has been a focus on relieving the auto industry as well. While specifics have not yet been carved out of this budget for automakers or dealers, there may be small business relief coming to help with furloughed employees, cash flow, and liquidity sooner than later.

The Timeline to Feel Relief

As the Senate Democrats and Republicans agree on a deal, the final revision must still be sent to the House for approval before then reaching the presidential desk for signing and ultimate implementation. The automotive industry has not been officially named as a recipient of a specific dollar amount yet. Still, the CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, John Bozzella, suggested earlier this week, he believes the administration has been focused on the automotive sector, as well. Based on his conversations in Washington, and his experiences over the years weathering economic storms, Bozzella shared he believes $500 billion may be allocated. This amount is a fund from the U.S. Department of Treasury and may become the automotive lifeline in the days and weeks to come.

Small Business & Individual Provisions

As the details continue to roll out, $367 billion is to be allocated to a small business loan program. These loans will allow businesses to retain employees, with payroll and benefits extensions, in an effort to bridge through this time of commerce stalling. Individuals and families will receive direct government payments. Each American adult is eligible for $1,200 and a $500 stipend per child within the household. Unemployment benefits are set to be augmented as well and include an extension of up to four months. Those benefits are being expanded to include self-employed, gig, and other workers. A $600 weekly bump is also expected to increase the traditional benefit amounts.

How Your Dealership Can Capitalize

Every available arm of assistance should be leveraged at the dealership level. The automakers may receive a leg-up of their own in the weeks to come. But, for now, operations at your local level are getting a lifeline. The small business loans may not be the best option for liquidity for every dealer, but for those who can use the funds to continue operations, without furloughing or terminating staff, it may be a much-needed solution.

Be a Beacon of Employee Assistance

As your teams try to understand what this relief means to them, you can take a position of guidance and assistance to walk them through their situations. Your HR department can maybe reach out to offer tutorials about filing for unemployment benefits, for example. Consider offering an open line of communication with each member of your team working from home, to provide support and help with navigating their next steps. Keep them abreast of your plans to stay afloat as a company, including plans to bring back those who may be currently furloughed. 

This stimulus package may be only the first to come. As the nation continues to learn and adapt to the effects and prevention of COVID-19, this first round of financial assistance is a welcomed lifeline for many.