Efforts underway to help small businesses hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 2:54 PM, Mar 25, 2020

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of thousands of people around world. It has sent financial markets into a downward spiral and now, the backbone of the American economy, roughly 30 million small businesses, is in jeopardy.

“Most small businesses really don’t have much in the way of cashflow,” said Todd McCracken. “They are in the position to last for days maybe weeks, for the most part, if they don’t have money coming in the door.”

McCracken is with the National Small Business Association. Many of NSBA’s 65,000 members have had to shutter their doors temporarily in the name of public health, but the longer these businesses remain closed, the more concern there is over whether some will ever reopen.

“Small businesses are half our economy,” McCraken added. “Most new jobs are provided by smaller companies and about half of all non-governmental employment is provided by smaller businesses.”

So, what exactly do small businesses in America need right now to survive this pandemic, the financial side at least?

“They need liquidity, they need cash. That’s the bottom line,” said McCracken.

Some small businesses are getting cash from bigger companies, like Facebook. Last week, the social media giant pledged $100 million in grants for 30,000 small businesses struggling right now.

In addition, the U.S. small business administration has begun offering up to $2 million in low-interest disaster relief loans to small businesses effect by COVID-19. The loans are 2.75 to 3.75 percent.

Meanwhile, a growing number of states, like Florida, are offering no-interest loans. Typically though, they max out at $50,000 per small business.

Importantly to note, whether a business is applying for private sector grants or government loans, they should expect the process for both to take a few weeks. A few weeks could just be too long for many of the small business feeling the financial impact of this pandemic, and that is why organizations like the NSBA are closely watching the second stimulus package being proposed in congress.

The latest version of the package would offer $350 billion in small business loans that are expected to be issued in a faster timeframe and with more substantial benefits. The catch is small businesses who get this money have to commit to not to laying off their current employees.

“This is a really good package for small companies,” said McCracken. “It would allow them to get a loan, we hope very quickly to support their operations but importantly the amount they spent on staffing and their rent payments can be completely forgiven.”

What is loaned but not used for rent and staffing would have to be paid back, but the business has a year to do so.

“There are still going to be hiccups I am sure, because we’ve never tried anything like this before,” said McCracken, “because this is literally going to be millions of small businesses applying for these loans in a very tight window.”

McCracken, most financial analysts and even economist believe if small businesses can stay afloat, then the economy and average Americans should be able to bounce back faster post-COVID-19.