Newell: NOLA tourism must battle bad headlines from early days of pandemic

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GNO Inc President and CEO Michael Hecht returned today for his weekly segment with Newell to discuss the state of business and industry in the metro area as New Orleans approaches the end of the first week of Phase One reopening. “Michael, the Small Business Administration has been doing some tweaking and fine-tuning of the Paycheck Protection Program,” Newell began. “Melvin Rodrigue, head of the National Restaurant Association and President of Galatoire’s Restaurants sat down with President Trump the other day, saying that some things need to change in order to help that industry… what did he mean?”“Let’s start off with the good, and the good is that the PPP is by far, objectively, the biggest, fastest and most impactful relief program for small businesses that we have ever seen,” Hecht answered. “By comparison, if you consider what was done by the Federal government after Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, the PPP to date is close to 5,000% more in total value that’s been pushed out the door. The secret is that this time the private banking industry was used, and this model makes so much more sense. We have to codify this in Federal legislation so the next time this happens we can just turn it on instead of having to reinvent the wheel. The challenge is that it was initially set up to help businesses retain their employees instead of maintaining cash reserves to get them through. For restaurants in particular, they wondered, if I spend all this money retaining my employees and after 8 weeks I’m still not able to reopen and make money, from a business standpoint, that’s been a bridge to nowhere. The Feds are being responsive, relaxing rules so money can be spent on overhead like rent.”