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May 08, 2020

Engine Hosts Town Hall with Rep. David Schweikert and Arizona Startups

As companies of all sizes and sectors grapple with the ongoing pandemic, startups are poised to play a unique role in the economic recovery, making it critical that lawmakers ensure startups have the relief resources they need to survive in the short term.

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On Thursday, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) joined Engine, accelerator SEED SPOT, and three entrepreneurs from the greater Phoenix area to discuss how startups are currently navigating the uncertain landscape and what policymakers can do to help.

The participating entrepreneurs from the Scottsdale area were Deanna Montrose, the Founder of Paraffin International; Mike Olsen, the Founder and CEO of Proctorio; and Bob La Loggia, the Founder and CEO of AppointmentPlus.

The conversation included issues with accessing Paycheck Protection Program loans through large banks, how the pandemic has interfered with their fundraising abilities, and how the pivot to online platforms as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has overwhelmed their operations. 

“We see quite a few different barriers for companies that are emerging, whether it’s companies that are scaling up quickly to meet additional demands, or having to pivot business models that aren’t designed for working from home,” C’pher Gresham, CEO of SEED SPOT, said on the call. “On the other side, capital access remains a real barrier as well.”

Rep. Schweikert said his office has been fielding concerns from small businesses and venture capital-funded firms that aren’t able to access available funding programs—such as the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program—because of restrictive guidelines and regulations. The congressman also said that some policymakers are actively looking at the possibility of improving R&D tax credits in order to better position U.S. startups to compete on a global scale.   

“It was a pleasure to join Arizona entrepreneurs for a conversation on the resources available to small businesses and learn more about the challenges facing the startup community as a result of the pandemic,” Rep. Schweikert said in a statement to Engine. “Our office is available to assist Arizonans with questions on the Paycheck Protection Program or to walk businesses through the other different resources that are available. I welcome any Arizona startup to reach out to us for help.” 

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