There is one word I typically avoid and usually cringe when it is used: unprecedented. Its inclusion is for dramatic effect, of course. And while it can technically be used to connote an event or item that is unique, atypical, or abnormal, for me, it really should be reserved to truly point out something that has never been seen or achieved before (pick the synonym: unparalleled, unequaled, unmatched, unrivaled).
While we’ve seen warning signs over the years that we might be susceptible to some sort of pandemic (SARs, H1N1, Ebola, etc.), we haven’t had any impact the world so significantly since the 1918 Spanish flu killed over 50 million people worldwide (675,000 Americans) and was dubbed the “mother of all pandemics.”
But a world almost completely shut down is unprecedented. The response by the federal government has also been unprecedented. And both of these are sure to lead to major consequences for all both personally and at work. One of the significant repercussions is an explosion of federal government deficit spending, already lingering around $4 trillion and sure to grow. With this will be calls to raise more revenue, and we know who the targets will be (need a hint, an article from last week in the NYT: A wealth Tax Is the Logical Way to Support Coronavirus Relief). Family Businesses could be subject to harmful changes to the estate tax, lose the discount valuations for privately held companies, and a wealth tax! Due to the illiquid nature of many family enterprises, any of these could result in the forced sale of the business and more LOST JOBS!
Which is why we are reaching out to you today. We need your help, and in turn, we hope by making you do this exercise, it will also help you and your company. We need your answer to this question: How Did You Help During the Great Pandemic? You see, we consistently tell policymakers and influencers that our family-owned businesses are different. They treat their employees better (like family), they create jobs, and their charitable giving is community-based. And the answer won’t just help us on Capitol Hill. A plurality of Americans say a company’s actions during this time will have a major impact on whether they buy that company’s products and services in the future.
That’s why you need a good answer to “How Did You Help During the Great Pandemic?” and we would like you to quantify what you did for your employees, customers, community, and nation.
- Did you support your employees by providing essential benefits like paid leave?
- Did you continue to produce needed equipment and materials?
- Did you switch production to something needed, working in close cooperation with the government to respond to the pandemic?
- Did you use company assets (planes, logistics, hotel rooms, etc.) to help?
- What did you do for the frontline workers?
We want to let legislators know the good that family businesses have done during these difficult times. If you are amenable, we would like to highlight this information on the Family Enterprise USA website. We know many times family businesses keep even their good deeds private. But right now, the public wants to know what companies and individuals are doing to help their employees and communities during this unprecedented time. And while we want to be one conduit to highlight the good you’re doing, you should also identify other stakeholders that can tell your story now and later down the road.
Policymakers and the public will remember these contributions after this crisis has ended!
Lastly, we know that there are also stories out there where the quick government intervention impeded you from helping your employees as well. An example of this is the $600 sweetener temporarily added to weekly unemployment checks. Many industries – like the restaurant industry – say it will be nearly impossible to lure employees back to work that are getting $1,000 per work to stay home. If you have examples of this, we’d like to privately use them as well to help guide policymakers in the future.
Thanks in advance for responding to this request, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us as a resource.
With wishes that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during these uncertain and challenging times.
Pat and Mike
President; Family Enterprise USA
Chief Executive Officer
Policy and Taxation Group
Family Enterprise USA is the organization that represents all family businesses on a national level in DC; it is not unique to any industry. FEUSA is different from other organizations because it represents and advocates for the families of family businesses and the issues, they face running their businesses every day. Our sole mission and purpose is to promote family businesses and their job growth in America. We also support the work of Family Business Centers across the country. We hope your family will choose to be a member of FEUSA. Family Enterprise USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Family foundations can donate.