Despite the twinkling light displays in City Park and growing anticipation of Christmas, for small business owners like me, it’s hard to shake some pre-holiday jitters this year. While local and state economies are largely open for business as pandemic restrictions across the country are lifted, New Orleans’ recovery has been stunted by another historic storm season, the rising cost of goods and supply chain issues.

Thankfully, many small businesses like mine have access to a lifeline.

The Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (COVID EIDL) program is specifically designed to support small businesses as we recover from the pandemic’s disastrous impact and ongoing challenges. These low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million can be used to help pay our operating expenses, including payroll and rent or mortgages, and other ordinary business expenses and debt.

Securing a COVID EIDL loan has been essential to sustaining my small business. Without it, my business, my employees, and the many small businesses who I partner with to deliver client services would be out of luck.

Unfortunately, this crucial support is coming to an end. The COVID EIDL program, which is the last major pandemic emergency capital program for small businesses, is set to end on Dec. 31. Without action, this essential program will expire with billions of dollars left unused at a time when small businesses are confronting mounting obstacles.

As a member of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices community, I’m calling on Congress to extend the COVID EIDL deadline into 2022 so other small business owners can access this much-needed capital and continue supporting their employees, customers, and communities.

The COVID EIDL program saved my small business. It would be a shame to allow this lifeline for other small businesses to expire this month with billions of dollars left unspent and a new COVID-19 variant around the corner.

CHRISTOPHER CANTRALL

owner, New Orleans Perspectives