COVID-19’s Devastation On Warren County Small Businesses

COVID-19’s Devastation On Warren County Small Businesses

Hon. Nikki J. Moreschi 4/17/2020

I worry about so many of my friends and family member impacted financially by this virus. As a small business owner myself, I am very aware of the strain placed on small business owners by this economic crisis.

It goes without saying that the profound impact on the smallest, locally-owned businesses that are the backbone of our downtown districts like the City of Glens Falls, the Village of Lake George, North Creek, Warrensburg and Bolton and Lake Luzern has been sobering. Many of our business districts were just enjoying a historical resurgence as we, as citizens of Warren County, have become more educated and aware of the benefits of shopping locally and revitalized downtown areas.

The impact of the COVID-19 on our community’s small businesses has been devastating. Small businesses’ ability to withstand months of suppressed revenue compared to that of large corporations is minimal. They also need different kinds of support programs that their larger business counterparts.

  • Many of our small businesses are at great risk of closing permanently if the crisis continues for several months.
  • COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses’ revenue, and the hundreds employed by our County’s smallest businesses are at risk of unemployment as a result.
  • Our small business owners primarily need financial assistance and penalty-free extensions on expenses.

Small business financial assistance programs should not only address revenues, but expenses as well. Minimizing permanent business closures is critical to our downtown and small town recovery. Currently, much of the focus has been on revenue enhancement by supporting carry-out, gift card purchases, and online shopping where/when possible BUT THEY NEED MORE HELP.

Most small businesses need to suspend some expenses while they are mandated to be closed – of rents, utilities, and other operating fees. They may need to work with local officials for reductions in utility operations, municipal fees, etc. In addition, while small business operations are being negatively impacted, property owners represent a key stakeholder group. There also needs to be a dialogue with property owners as partners to help retain small business tenants, and continue as a connector and educator on programs at the federal level designed to suspend mortgage payments.

Small businesses desperately need support in transitioning to e- commerce selling when possible, but most lack e-commerce sales. E-commerce training programs, website development grants, and connections with low cost e-commerce platforms have to be as prevalent now and in the recovery in the weeks and months ahead.

For assistance and information see Warren County’s Economic Development Corporation Page: http://edcwc.org/home.aspx

U.S. Treasury –
On March 27, 2020 the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” was signed into law to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and
businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. The bill will provide nearly $350 billion in loan funding and grants offered through SBA.

Small Business Administration Loan Programs –
The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses and nonprofits to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide small businesses and nonprofits with working capital loans of up to $2 million for vital economic support. Be sure to check out the National Trust Community Investment Corporation’s highlights of SBA resources that could help small businesses and nonprofits in this recap, as well as their summary of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits through their Small Business Grants Program. They also set up a Business Resource Hub.

JPMorgan pledged $50 million global philanthropic commitment to support communities and people hit hardest by this public health crisis, including $2 million to existing nonprofit partners and $8 million to assist small businesses.

The James Beard Foundation is launching a fund that will be gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro- grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.

MainVest, a crowdfunding platform, announced its new Main Street Initiative: a $2,000, zero-interest, 120 day loan for restaurants or other brick and mortars affected by the shutdown.

Opportunity Fund, which specializes in money lending to small businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color, is collaborating with investors and nonprofits to put together a coronavirus relief fund that will provide grants and low-interest rate loans.

The Go Fund Me Relief Initiative is intended to support our local businesses facing financial loss. Make a difference today by donating or starting a fundraiser.