Small businesses are the lifeblood of the United States economy, and their survival after COVID-19 is critically important. Join Washington Post Live for a series of conversations about how small businesses are responding to the new business landscape and offering creative incentives to retain talent – with a special focus on the new challenges and opportunities for small businesses to manage their finances.


Josh Silverman said the percentage of small business fully open has fallen from 85 percent in May to 63 percent currently. “About 63 percent of small businesses, independent businesses are… back fully open. That’s actually down from 85 percent… in May. So the delta variant has actually caused continued strain and contraction.” (Washington Post Live)
Josh Silverman also said he doesn’t anticipate requiring employees to come to the office five days a week because ‘we don’t think we need that.’ “What we’ve asked our employees is, as it becomes safe to reenter the office, we’re looking for people to be in the office roughly two or three days a week… We don’t expect that most people will be in the office five days a week, and frankly we don’t think we need that.” (Washington Post Live)
Silverman said the U.S. Postal Service is different from private postal services in that it “has a mandate to serve every address” in the United States. “The postal service… is critical infrastructure and the U.S. Postal Service has a mission that is different than the private for-profit postal services. The U.S. Postal Service has a mandate to serve every address in America.” (Washington Post Live)
“I think the shift to e-commerce is permanent. I do think people have come online, discovered that it’s really working for them, and I think much of that behavior is going to stay.” (Washington Post Live)
Ethel’s CEO Jill Bommarito said the company “highly encourage[s]” employees to get vaccinated. “At this time, we do not [require vaccination]… We highly encourage it.” (Washington Post Live)
Jill Bommarito said Ethel’s in not unique in experiencing these delays, and that they cause ripple effects throughout the supply chain. “What we would normally consider… a two week lead time on a raw material, we’re seeing that double and triple. And it’s not just the fact that they’re having trouble getting it produced… it’s also that they’re raw materials are being delayed.” (Washington Post Live)

Jill Bommarito

Jill Bommarito is founder and president of Ethel’s Baking Co., a family-run company on a mission to bring everyone old-fashioned, purely delicious dessert bars, baked with simple ingredients and loved by all. The bars are certified gluten free and handmade with love in a dedicated gluten-free facility in Michigan.

Ethel’s is the namesake of Jill’s grandmother, Ethel St. John, who taught Jill to bake the old-fashioned way when she was a child. Jill – who is gluten free and has several family members who suffer from celiac disease – wanted to continue her grandma’s legacy with baked goods that everyone around the table could enjoy, without sacrificing taste.

Born and raised in a rural suburb of Flint, Michigan, where the automotive industry has long been the focus of the economy, Jill took on the governor’s challenge to diversify the state’s economy by investing in agriculture as part of building Ethel’s.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of award-winning local butter and eggs later, Ethel’s has become a key local player. With their handmade craft bakery products, Ethel’s fills a void in grocery stores’ fresh bakery departments and specialty retailers across the U.S. and in Canada. Ethel’s dessert bars are also available direct to consumer at

Jill founded Ethel’s in 2011 when making a decision to change career paths and start a food business. Jill and her husband, Vince, felt that if they were going to start a new business, they would need to be a part of the solution for the downcast economy in Detroit and the state. Ethel’s Baking Co. was born out of the desire to spread joy through food and grow jobs for Michigan’s future.

Ethel’s launched as a wholesale baked goods manufacturer with 10 retail stores as initial customers. All of them remain partners in the company’s growth today, along with Whole Foods, Meijer, Fresh Thyme, Kroger, Giant Eagle, Amazon and many more. In fall 2020, Ethel’s opened a new 19,000-square-foot production facility, making it possible to catch up to demand and expand its distribution, while also offering capabilities for innovation to come.

Josh Silverman

Josh Silverman is Etsy’s Chief Executive Officer, leading the company as it builds a platform that empowers creative entrepreneurs around the world. He is also a member of Etsy’s board odirectors. Josh’s two decades of leadership experience include growing consumer technology companies and scaling global marketplaces. He previously served as President of Consumer Products and Services at American Express, CEO of Skype, CEO of, co-founder and CEO of Evite, Inc., and he held various executive roles at eBay. Josh is currently on the board of directors of Shake Shack and serves as Chairman of the non-profit Code Nation.

Moderated by Michelle Singletary

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column The Color of Money, which appears in The Washington Post on Wednesdays and Sundays. Her award-winning column is syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group and is carried in dozens of newspapers nationwide. She has written three personal finance books, including her latest, “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom.” Singletary was the financial expert for “The Revolution,” a daytime program on ABC. For two years, she was host of her own national television program, “Singletary Says,” on TV One. She is a frequent contributor to various NPR programs and has appeared on national talk shows and television networks, including “Oprah,” NBC’s “Today,” “The Early Show on CBS” and CNN. In her spare time, Singletary is the director of a ministry she founded at her church, in which women and men volunteer to mentor others who are having financial challenges. As part of this ministry, she and her husband also volunteer to teach financial literacy to prison inmates. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park. She has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a master’s degree in business and management. To stay informed about various money issues subscribe to Michelle’s weekly retirement and personal finance newsletter, which will be delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.

Content from Principal®

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

©2021 Principal Financial Services, Inc. Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Co. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 888-774-6267, member SIPC and/or independent broker/-dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. (Washington Post Live)

How SMBs Can Leverage Benefits to Recruit and Retain Talent in a Post-Pandemic Labor Market

In this conversation, Elise Labott sits down for a one-on-one conversation with Amy Friedrich from Principal®. Amy leads Principal®’s U.S. Insurance Solutions team, serving more than 150K small- to medium-sized businesses. They’ll discuss the importance of benefits among SMBs to retain employees in a tight labor market, and offer actionable advice for SMBs to fully understand the unique benefits needs of their specific, diverse workforces to create a more inclusive environment for employees.

©2021 Principal Financial Services, Inc. Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Co. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 888-774-6267, member SIPC and/or independent broker/-dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.​

Amy Friedrich

Amy Friedrich leads Principal®’s U.S. Insurance Solutions, serving 100,000 small to medium-sized employers and 3.5 million individuals. Through a broad range of protection solutions, Principal helps employers attract and retain key talent, protect against loss of income and assets, and secure their financial future. Friedrich leads 3,500 employees responsible for group employee benefits, life insurance, disability insurance, and nonqualified deferred compensation, along with the distribution arm.

Moderated by Elise Labott

Elise Labott is a leading journalist covering foreign US foreign policy and international issues. Elise is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and before that was CNN’s Global Affairs Correspondent. She has reported from more than 80 countries, traveled the world with seven secretaries of state and has interviewed many world leaders and newsmakers. Elise is the founder of Twopoint.o Media, a digital media platform that aims to engage, inform and inspire citizens to solve today’s most pressing global challenges, and an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is a contributor to Politico, provides commentary for MSNBC, NPR, BBC and several other broadcast outlets and is a sought-after interviewer and moderator. Elise also serves as a global ambassador for Vital Voices, an organization that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world and is on the advisory committee of Global Kids DC, a program which introduces high school students in underserved communities to international affairs. Prior to joining CNN, Elise covered the UN for ABC News and also reported on diplomatic and foreign policy issues for Agence France-Presse and other publications. Elise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research.