NCA president John Downs calls for urgent small business support amid coronavirus outbreak

The US-based National Confectioners Association president and CEO John Downs has highlighted the urgent need to support businesses in surviving the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an opinion piece, he stressed that smaller companies, including those within the confectionery sector required an immediate need for support from government in order for such businesses to continue trading.

He warned that if such companies were allowed to fail then there would be a significant number of job losses that would cause ‘major harm to the economy,’ which made decisive action on the issue a key priority. In a response to the rapidly unfolding situation, US president Donald Trump said he would be seeking multi-billion financial support from Congress for businesses, including a package of short-term loans. According to the Washington Post, the total sum of support being sought by the White House amounted to $850 billion to support US businesses, but it has since grown to $1.7 trillion, as over 6 million people file for unemployment across the country.

Meanwhile, Downs also said earlier this month, that the major US confectionery show, Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago, which attracts more than 15,000 visitors from across the region’s confectionery sector, was due to continue as scheduled in May. The organisers of the event, have said that they are ‘continuing to monitor the situation’ and would act on government and state advice regarding the event.

“It’s time to harness the collective resilience, grit and determination needed to get assistance measures across the finish line for the family-owned companies in our industry and all small businesses across the country. Wholesalers, distributors and other family-owned companies alike need business interruption liquidity so that they don’t have to lay off their employees. In other words, our elected officials need to move quickly to provide no-interest loans to these companies so that they can make payroll,” said Downs.

He added: “As elected officials at all levels of government continue to take on the major public health challenges presented by Covid-19, our national leaders in government must take every opportunity to address the needs of the hardworking small business owners that serve as an economic engine and driver of job creation in this country. While we are encouraged by the leadership shown by Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania and Governor DeWine of Ohio, there is still much more work that the President, members of Congress, governors, mayors and other elected officials must do to ensure that the backbone of our economy does not collapse.

“On behalf of the confectionery industry and along with 60 other food industry organisations, we recently sent a letter to elected officials at all levels of government calling on them to officially recognize food manufacturing as essential critical infrastructure, thereby exempting food industry operations from curfews and limitations on public gatherings. As we all know, manufacturing facilities are not areas of “public gathering,” but are heavily controlled environments that are regularly inspected, operate under strict food safety requirements, exemplify good manufacturing practices and exercise rigorous hygienic protocols.”

As Downs continued, manufacturers of chocolate, candy, gum and mints directly employ nearly 54,000 people across the United States, with the majority of these jobs being created by small businesses. Importantly, the power of this concentrated but important part of our economy lies in the 1:10 multiplier effect that supports more than 550,000 jobs in related industries, including agriculture, retail, transportation and more.

He thanked NCA member companies for their support in assisting in maintaining the country’s economy, and encouraged state governors, mayors and other government officials to take clear action to support American small businesses from economic peril.


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