The nation’s second-largest home improvement and hardware chain is giving $25 million in grant money to help minority businesses in the U.S. reopen the economy. The Moorseville, North Carolina-based company wants to assist small businesses in obtaining masks, PPE, and other supplies it needs to protect its employees and the public.
Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s, said: “These are going to be minority businesses and other businesses that are now starting to reopen. So we just want to continue to not only run a good business but also be a great corporate citizen in all of the communities that we operate in.”
Ellison also urged other CEOs to do their part: “To all my fellow CEOs out there running large companies. Let’s do our part to help the small businesses get back up and going.”
Some small businesses haven’t been able to access capital through the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program. The Inspector General determined that the SBA didn’t encourage lenders to offer access to the Payroll Protection Program to underserved communities. The CARES Act had previously called for such actions to happen. As such, many rural businesses and female-owned businesses were left out.
Lowe’s also issued $340 million during the first quarter for response measurements. The earlier commitment included PPE and N95 mask for medical teams and first responders as well as disinfecting and cleaning supplies for the same groups.
Many retailers and other nonessential businesses were made to close their doors and shut down their business operations early in the year because of the coronavirus.
However, Lowe’s was able to remain open because of the nature of its inventory. In March, the company gave $80 million of special payments to its hourly workers. The retailer has also approved another $80 million for this month. This means Lowe’s full-time employees will receive a $300 bonus and part-time workers will receive $150. It will also pay out more than $90 million in profit-sharing monies.
Ellison said, “It’s all about trying to do what is best for our associates first and our community, and we’re proud that we could be there for them in these really unique times. Our culture is about doing the right thing for our communities and our associates.”
Ellison also has advice for businesses that are reopening and now have to operate in a new normal.
“…the only competition we have is the virus. We have to work together to get this economy going, and my message to America is: ‘Support your local businesses, support your small businesses and let’s do our part to maintain social distancing so we can get this virus behind us as quick as possible.”
By mid-morning trading on Monday, Lowe’s stock stood at 122.25 and was up by 1.33 percent.