How Small and Medium- sized Businesses can Effectively Access Governmental Support

Summary of the 25 May Webinar

written byEmmett Kelly

On May 25th, the AGBC Frankfurt hosted its second COVID-19 focused webinar titled “How Small and Medium-sized Businesses can Effectively Access Governmental Support.” Thomas Leiser, AGBC VP of Programs, hosted the event using Zoom from his home in Gießen with special guests, Dr. Hermann Knott from his home in Cologne, and James J. Black at home in Washington, D.C.

Following introductions by Mr. Leiser, Dr. Hermann Knott, a Partner with Andersen Tax and Law in Cologne, began by saying “The devil is in the details; and unfortunately, there is more than one devil.” Mr. Knott, an expert on M&A and infrastructure, outlined many of the details of the various programs available to different sized companies in Germany. He emphasized that the programs are largely operating well, and that can at least partially be attributed to an established system of support in Germany. He said “There is already protection in Germany under a state system.”

James J. Black, a lawyer with Morrison & Foerster LLP in Washington, D.C. and also a M&A specialist, spoke in some detail about the several programs in the US including CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), the Main Street Lending Program, and the PPP (the Paycheck Protection Program). He emphasized that some of the key programs under the CARES Act, including the Main Street Lending Program, “…are not operational.” He added that “…They are a challenge for the administration to get into effect.”

Mr. Black went into further detail about the very popular PPP program and said $510B of the current $660B has already been lent-out, and the US government is actively trying to change the restrictions on this program to make it easier for businesses to use the money and survive beyond the original 8 week end-date.

Dr. Knott and Mr. Black spoke about enforcement of restrictions and the backlash some well funded companies, including the LA Lakers, received for applying for support. Mr. Knott said, “In Germany, there is no negative impact on a company’s reputation to ask to participate in programs.” He referred again to the long-standing state support of entities. Mr. Black said “There is no negative impact in general, except for companies which have a lot of money. It’s okay for companies that need the money.”


Original announcement:

The AGBC Frankfurt continues to serve its members while keeping Social Distancing.  It will host its second webcast focused on COVID-19 on Monday, May 25 at 19:00.  While the first successful webcast with Dr. Urnovitz focused on the virus, this webcast will focus on economic measures the US and German governments have taken to support small and medium-sized businesses.  Dr. Hermann Knott, a Partner with Andersen Tax and Law in Cologne will team with his friend, James J. Black, Of Counsel with Morrison & Foerster LLP in Washington, D.C. to discuss the very different approaches of the US and Germany, their challenges and successes and how small and medium-sized businesses can effectively access governmental support.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is only beginning to show itself, but it has already had severe consequences for many small and medium-sized businesses, in many cases endangering their very survival.  The federal governments in Germany and the United States have taken a variety of emergency measures to counter the damage to the economy and to individual businesses, and the response in each country has looked very different.  The U.S. response, which is still a work-in-progress, has taken the form of a wide variety of newly created programs to provide funding to individuals and businesses of all sizes, but it has been challenging for many entrepreneurs to navigate the many programs and their eligibility criteria and restrictions.  Join us for a webinar discussing the economic German and U.S. relief measures and how small and medium-sized


Dr. Hermann Knott is an experienced corporate and transactional lawyer who also handles cross-border disputes. Hermann serves mostly German, other European and US based clients in their in- und outbound transactions related to Germany. He spent some time of his educational and professional career in the US. Hermann is a frequent speaker and publishes on legal topics of actual relevance in the area of his advice.

Jim Black is a corporate lawyer whose primary focus lies in advising German and Austrian companies on their U.S. legal matters, including mergers & acquisitions and other strategic corporate transactions.  Many of Jim’s clients are family-owned Mittelstand companies.  Before joining Morrison & Foerster, Jim was a partner in another international law firm based in Frankfurt, where he headed the firm’s U.S. law practice in Germany.  While in Frankfurt, he served as Executive Vice President of AGBC Frankfurt.  He was previously a Robert Bosch Fellow in Berlin and is a member of the American Council on Germany.