Unity National Bank
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much, Governor Kemp. It is good to be back in Georgia. Today, my wife Karen and I, we’re here to pay our respects to a truly great Georgian in Ravi Zacharias. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to come here to Unity Bank, which has been such an extraordinary partner in ensuring that the Paycheck Protection Program reaches those small businesses here in Atlanta and all across Georgia most in need.
And I want to thank you, Governor, for your leadership during these extraordinary times. It was a week ago, as we traveled together across Georgia, that I said that Georgia is leading the way in reopening America. And we want to commend you for the safe and responsible and measured way that you’ve continued to restore not only the economic life but the cultural life of this community. And I want to echo our host’s appreciation to you for that.
It is also a great privilege for me to be here with Secretary Ben Carson, who has done a phenomenal job from the very outset of this administration at Housing and Urban Development.
But as was announced just a few short weeks ago, the President asked him to focus the commission that he has been leading for the administration specifically on the issue of minority communities and ensuring that our minority communities have the resources and have the health support to be able to see our way through this pandemic. And, Secretary Carson, I’m looking forward to your comments as you update us on that.
In Georgia, Sonny and Mary Perdue need no introduction, I know. But what you may not know — you know, the Good Book tells us that “a prophet is without honor only in his native place.” (Laughter.) You may not know that now Secretary Sonny Perdue has become the second-most popular figure in our administration with American farmers.
And, Mr. Secretary, let me — among your neighbors and friends here in Georgia, let me just say, thank you for the job you’ve done. Many took note of the fact that, in recent weeks, we faced real challenges with meatpacking companies. And I want to say, as the — as the leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, that Secretary Sonny Perdue singularly brought that issue before the President and before the administration. We were able to surge CDC personnel, protective equipment, testing resources, and we were able to prevent what could well have been a significant disruption in our food supply.
And so, Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for the job that you’ve done keeping food on the table for the American people. Job well done. (Applause.)
We’re here to talk about the Paycheck Protection Program in particular. And let me thank Dr. Kase Lawal and the team that is here at Unity Bank. Being in Atlanta today, I wanted to — I wanted to visit a bank that was serving the community well, and particularly serving the minority community well in this country. And Unity National Bank is very close to the top of the list.
I know you hail from Texas as the chairman, but on my way in, I spent some time with members of your team. And I just want to commend you for the great work that you’ve done here. In fact, a number of the participants of our roundtable have been able to secure Paycheck Protection loans through Unity Bank. Others are being processed that are here.
And — but I’m pleased to report that with the strong support of Unity Bank, Governor, we have not only distributed some $510 billion in loans to small businesses that have allowed businesses to keep people on the payroll of the business during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, but here in Georgia alone, the Paycheck Protection Program, with the strong support of banks like Unity Bank, have actually distributed $15 billion in loans to more than 131,000 Georgian small businesses. And let me — (applause).
We also announced yesterday — Jovita Carranza of the Small Business Administration announced that she’s going to set aside $10 billion for the second round of PPP funds, specifically — Mr. Secretary will appreciate this — specifically for community development financial institutions and provide financial assistance through them to vulnerable communities. We are here for you. We are here to partner with you.
And let me also say that one of the things that our scientists observed early on, on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was the unique challenges that minority communities have faced against this coronavirus. Particularly the African American community, to some extent the Latino community, has experienced the most severe consequences.
And I want to assure you that we are focusing resources on testing into community health centers. We’re going to continue in the days ahead to ensure that our most vulnerable, whether they be in minority communities and in urban areas, or whether they be in nursing homes or elsewhere, we’re going to be there for our minority communities and the most vulnerable in this country. I promise you that. (Applause.)
And all the while, we’re going to work to open up America again. And as I said, as I started, Georgia has been leading the way. Other states around the country — all 50 states today have begun the process of reopening their economies in a safe and responsible way.
We have a ways to go, but the trend lines are encouraging. We’re actually seeing new cases declining. We’re seeing the positivity rate in states, not just here in Georgia, but all across the country declining precipitously. Forty-two states across the country have — are increasing testing, but their positive rate is less than 10 percent. And in more than 20 states, the positive rate is less than 5 percent.
The progress that we’re making is a credit to the people of this state and to the people all across this country who’ve been willing to put the health of others first. And I want to thank all of you for the role that each of you have played as community leaders in helping to place Georgia and put our country in a position where we can reopen safely and responsibly.
With that, I’m going to turn it over to Secretary Carson and to Secretary Perdue for some comments. And then we’re really here to really listen. I’d love to hear the stories of what we’ve done here. But before we do that, let me — let me also take a moment just to express a word about what I know is on the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, and that is the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Our prayers are with George Floyd’s family and with all those in the community impacted by that tragedy. Our prayers are also with the family of Ahmaud Arbery here in Georgia.
And let me say to all of those gathered here that we have no tolerance for racism in America. We have no tolerance for violence inspired by racism in America. And as President Trump said, justice will be served. (Applause.)
MS. KING: (Inaudible.) Amen. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, thank you, Alveda. Thank you.
Now, while we also believe in law and order in this country, and we — while we condemn violence against property or persons, we — we will also always stand for the right of Americans to peacefully protest and let their voice be heard.
These are challenging times. We have great challenges in this country of our health and to our unity, but I have every confidence that as the American people have stepped forward and done what needed to be done — putting the health and wellbeing of their family, of their neighbors, of people they never met, first, that we will overcome the challenges that we face of racism in America. And we will come together as a nation and be stronger and better than ever before.
So thank you for allowing me to address that. And with that, I’d love to hear from a man who’s become a great friend of mine. He is a national figure, far beyond his current responsibilities. He’s been a great, great voice for American values and a great champion of our minority community.
Join me again in welcoming Dr. Ben Carson. Would you, please? (Applause.)