PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Federal Reserve Needs to Pivot to Get Capital to Main Street Businesses

By at 12 November, 2020, 2:08 pm

NEWS

Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. –  The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program has been a bust for small businesses, and billions of additional dollars are sitting idle in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) due to its expiration. Still, Main Street businesses across America are in desperate need of capital to readapt, operate effectively, or simply survive the COVID-19 economy. That is why Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) president & CEO Karen Kerrigan, and the principals of Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA), Jason Best and Sherwood Neiss, are urging the Federal Reserve to leverage a proven solution to broadly deliver capital to small businesses in need.

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs cannot afford for Washington to get stuck, but it seems our elected officials and policy leaders have reached that point. They need to fully explore innovative ideas to fuel capital formation and access, and a co-investment fund is one that will leverage local capital through federal support. It utilizes the power and security of regulated crowdfunding to drive capital to local businesses and startups, providing a turn-key solution that can be implemented quickly and with existing regulatory guardrails,” said Kerrigan.

The latest report from the Federal Reserve reveals that the Main Street Lending Program has lent approximately $4 billion of the $600 billion available with just 420 loans made. And these are bigger loans with an average loan size of $9.6 million.  The results are an extremely poor showing for a program that was supposed to focus on boosting Main Street businesses by providing a bridge to economic recovery. The program was established with $75 billion in equity provided by the Treasury Department from the CARES Act, and with approval from the Treasury Secretary.

“The bottom line is that the Main Street Lending Program is a bust for Main Street. It’s time for the Fed to pivot like so many small businesses are doing. Members of Congress have urged Chairman Jerome Powell to think innovatively about how the Fed can deliver the massive amount of capital it is sitting on to Main Street businesses. A co-investment fund is a simple, safe and transparent way of doing that,” added Kerrigan.

A Main Street Recovery Co-Investment Fund would utilize the power and protection of regulated crowdfunding to supercharge local investment. The model that has been successfully utilized in the U.K., and offers a turn-key approach for the Federal Reserve to put to use some of the billions of dollars in capital that is currently sitting idle. SBE Council and CCA are asking the Fed to set aside $20 billion of that unused capital – a tiny fraction of what is available – to launch a co-investment fund.

“It would appear under procedures for emergency lending under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act that the Fed has the power to allocate such funds,” says Neiss. “The fund would be ‘broad-based,’ tied to debt-type instruments, and used to aid Main Street businesses to fund the gap until restrictions are lifted on consumer behavior. Given the unusual and exigent circumstance we are in, this appears to be the emergency time to create this fund,” he added.

Despite the pandemic, interest among Main Street businesses to raise money from their customers and community has increased dramatically. The number of offerings has increased 47.5% since February alone according to data from Crowdfund Capital Advisors. Investments over the same period are up 300% and the number of local investors is up 99%.

“This is just over the past 9 months,” says Neiss. “Clearly the data is showing that despite the pandemic, both Main Street business and Main Street investors are eager to keep their local businesses alive. This co-investment fund will only further the positive results we are seeing in the data.”

“If the Fed would direct just 3% of the $600 billion already allocated to support SMEs it could deliver up to $250,000 to at least 80,000 businesses.  This is a 200x greater impact than has been achieved to date by the Main Street Lending Program.  This can be done using existing technology, existing regulation and existing industry data standards that provide for real-time transparency and oversight of every dollar.  This data is already being used by Bloomberg clients to track SME sentiment and activities,” added Best.

Recently, SBE Council and CCA released the report “Regulation Crowdfunding by Congressional District: A Report Card,” which reviews the progress of investment crowdfunding since 2016.  The Jumpstart Our Businesses Startup Act (JOBS Act) of 2012 enacted changes that ushered in investment crowdfunding, which officially launched following the finalization of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules in 2016. As noted in the report, there have been no cases of fraud with investment crowdfunding. And the democratization of capital is truly taking hold through investment crowdfunding, which allows small business owners to more easily identify investors and raise capital using SEC regulated platforms. Ninety percent of U.S. House Congressional districts (393) have had a regulated crowdfunding offering, and woman and minority entrepreneurs are finding significant success accessing capital via investment crowdfunding.

You can learn more about the co-investment fund by watching SBE Council’s recent webinar on how it works here, or watch Kerrigan’s appearance on FinTech television here.

Related Content:

Q&A: CCA and SBE Council on the Main Street Co-Investment Fund Idea, Start Us Up.

Crowdfunding Success Indicates Small Businesses and Startups Worthy of Government Matching Fund, Forbes.

ABOUT CCA

Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA) is a consulting and advisory firm. Its principals created the framework that became the basis for Regulation Crowdfunding. They have testified in front of 5 US House and Senate Committee Hearings on the subject and authored a book and World Bank report on the topic. They created the CCLEAR database that collects, cleans, normalizes and reports on offerings available under the JOBS Act. This data is transmitted to Bloomberg on a daily basis. They have worked in 43 countries helping governments and regulators create policy to enable startup and small business finance and job creation. Visit CCA’s website for additional information.

CONTACT: Sherwood Neiss  sherwood@theccagroup.com

Jason Best, jason@theccagroup.com

ABOUT SBE COUNCIL

SBE Council is nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For 25 years, SBE Council has worked on and advanced a range of private sector and public policy initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for strong startup activity and small business growth. Visit www.sbecouncil.org for additional information. Twitter: @SBECouncil

CONTACT: Karen Kerrigan, kkerrigan@sbecouncil.org

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