When we think about what makes our communities special, it’s often our small businesses that first come to mind. In Bordentown, that’s especially true. I raised my boys walking up and down Farnsworth Ave. It’s where they had their first ice cream and where we shared some of our earliest family dinners. But at a time of incredible uncertainty, top of mind shouldn’t just be how much we value our small businesses, but what’s needed to make sure they have the support they need to keep giving back to our communities. 

Recently, I spent some time back in Bordentown checking in on some of those small business owners and employees. For me, these aren’t just entrepreneurs, they’re former neighbors and friends. They’re people who made my time living in Bordentown special; people that welcomed my wife and two baby boys into their restaurants and shops. 

What I’ve heard from small business owners - in Bordentown and across Burlington and Ocean Counties - is that they’re worried. They’re worried about the lack of a federal strategy to put an end to the coronavirus crisis, they’re worried about the lack of action in Washington to pass another round of funding to help small businesses keep their doors open, and they’re worried about short sighted politicians who think this pandemic is over. 

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This is a worry that I share, and it’s one I’m working hard every day in New Jersey and Washington to address. We know that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t just have a public health impact, it has a real economic impact on our communities and families. When we don’t see a plan to ensure there’s enough testing and contact tracing to help get the pandemic under control, it means that we’re putting our small businesses in a position to fail. I’ve fought to secure billions to help bolster our nation’s efforts to put an end to this pandemic, and even put a comprehensive plan together that would help prepare us for future pandemics. 

It’s not just a matter of learning from the mistakes made at the federal level to control the public health crisis we live every day, we need to make sure we’re addressing the issues our small businesses are facing as well. Through the CARES Act earlier this year, I helped pass the Paycheck Protection Program. This wasn’t a perfect program, and it was meant to be temporary, but it did help small businesses keep their doors open as the virus raged. But because the virus was never brought under control, there’s still a need to help our small businesses. I’ve voted for a new round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and to work to ensure it goes to the small businesses who need it most, not big corporations. 

If we take the pandemic seriously enough that we implement a real national strategy to bring it under control and help our small businesses most in need, we can make a real impact in communities like Bordentown. 

We can’t lose HOB Tavern, or Mimosa Goods, or The Candy Jar because we didn’t act. We can save them, and strengthen what makes Bordentown so great if we take bold action now. Our neighborhood and the small businesses that make it special are truly essential, and I’m going to continue to fight to make sure we all get through this crisis.