Just a few weeks ago, our nation was experiencing a “blue-collar boom,” with record low unemployment and historic economic growth. Tragically, the arrival of the novel coronavirus changed everything. In response to this virus, stringent social-distancing measures were implemented to flatten the curve and to prevent our hospitals from being inundated. While these measures have certainly saved lives, they also have forced millions of Americans to file for unemployment and countless small businesses to close their doors.
Whether it has been in virtual meetings, letters, or telephone town halls, I have heard from thousands of concerned Minnesotans whose livelihoods are at stake. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear about shuttered small businesses and years of hard work completely erased by this pandemic.
As a small-business owner myself, I fully understand the emotional and financial turmoil small-business owners and workers are experiencing right now.
Therefore, as we continue to fight the coronavirus, I believe we must also begin to responsibly map a path back to economic prosperity.
A crucial step is ensuring that the administration of President Donald Trump has the resources it needs to continue to implement already successful programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, created under the CARES Act. It helped small businesses make ends meet and keep Americans employed amid this crisis. Although the program ran out of funding, I recently joined my colleagues in passing an additional $310 billion for this critical program.
Another critical step is ensuring we are responsibly putting Americans back to work. In a country as geographically and economically diverse as ours, a one-size-fits-all approach simply will not work. This notion applies to how states and localities address the crisis at hand. In rural areas like northern Minnesota, where social distancing was already a common practice for many, we can find a responsible and balanced approach that allows us to save lives and rescue the economy.
As we gradually reopen businesses across the state, it is imperative to implement innovative approaches to adequately but reasonably distance ourselves, continue with thorough cleaning and sanitization, and expedite the production of test kits and personal protective equipment to better protect employees and consumers. Minnesotans are practical people, and I have the utmost confidence they will continue to exercise good judgment as they reenter the workforce and businesses.
Finally, it is imperative that lawmakers identify the needed policy changes to jump-start the economy. Here in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District, there are vast reserves of critical minerals that countless industries rely on, including our health care sector. As this pandemic further highlights the grave deficiencies with our supply chains, we know we cannot afford to outsource these critical minerals any longer. It is high time we allow Minnesota’s miners to responsibly source the minerals to meet all our nation’s needs while also unleashing the economic engine here at home.
While this pandemic has created uncertainty, and there are no clear-cut answers, it is important to remember that no challenge is too great for the American people to overcome. Before this crisis, we had the strongest economy in the world. I am confident we can get back to that point by working together and enacting smart policies and practices. Together, we will overcome this dark period and reemerge as an even stronger and more self-reliant nation than before.
As we continue to fight the coronavirus together, please know that my office stands ready to help and to keep you informed. I will regularly be updating my website, stauber.house.gov/coronavirus-resources). You can also reach my office at 202-225-6211 to speak with a member of my team. We are here, and it is an honor to serve you.
Pete Stauber of Hermantown is the Republican representative of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.