Lifestyle

Banding Together in the Bay

Businesses Throughout the Region are Offered Support to See Through COVID-19

 

The coronavirus has taken a significant toll on businesses throughout the nation. While grappling with how to remain steadfast under circumstances the likes of which we’ve never experienced, no sector of business has been shaken as dramatically as small businesses.

You might assume the impact on publicly traded organizations, those that employ tens of thousands and influence our global economy, may have the most to lose. Yet issues closer to home might be more disruptive to Americans’ way of life. Small businesses and local operations are the lifeblood of regional economies. And right now, thousands of them are questioning if they’ll be given the resources and support needed to pick up where they left off when the dust settles.

Why are small businesses so vulnerable? According to the Small Business Association of Michigan, many of the difficulties stem from a general decrease in cash flow.

“For many small businesses, cash flow was already an issue before COVID-19. Now, many businesses across our state have been forced to close but at the same time pay paid sick leave and expanded (Family and Medical Leave Act) benefits,” said Micah Babcock, director of government operations for the Small Business Association of Michigan. “As you can imagine, this has only made the problem of cash flow even more difficult for Michigan small-business owners. As operating costs continue to rise due to government mandates surrounding the coronavirus, revenue continues to decline for many small businesses, as many have been forced to close and others are affected by the stay-at-home order.”

Small businesses within the Great Lakes Bay Region are faced with similar obstacles. As one can imagine, worried owners are seeking guidance on where to begin to ensure their businesses, staff and futures are protected. The situation is evolving perpetually, and for now navigating the unknown begins with staying informed.

Babock recommended that business owners “keep up to date on the changes in laws and programs the state and federal government are implementing to dampen the blow on small businesses. The federal government has put billions for dollars into various small-business assistance programs. Make sure you know what those are and how to implement them in your day-to-day business.”

While the federal government continues efforts to provide aid and solutions, communities are turning to each other for support. In the Great Lakes Bay Region there are many organizations to lend support to business owners.

“If you have any questions on those programs, make sure to check out the SBAM’s website or contact your local Small Business Development Center,” said Babcock. “SBAM, the Small Business Administration and local chambers of commerce will continue to provide the best information as the business environment continues to evolve around COVID-19.”

Organizations throughout the region aren’t just helping businesses in need. In April, a fund established by the Midland Area Community Foundation and United Way of Midland County provided financial assistance to over 600. Originally seeded by a $250,000 contribution from the foundation, the COVID-19 Response Fund assists residents affected by the pandemic. The Midland Area Community Foundation is providing $250,000 in match funds for gifts from individuals or businesses to continue generating additional resources for those in need.

“We appreciate the many ways the community is coming forward to help during this pandemic,” Holly Miller, executive director of the United Way of Midland County, said in a news release. “We see neighbors giving to neighbors in many ways, including volunteering and giving.”

The power of helping a neighbor is a catalyst of hope for individuals and businesses alike. As a member of the community, small businesses near you need you now more than ever. Your continued participation in the local economy may very well mean life or death for one of your favorite businesses.

“Continue to support your local businesses anyway that you can,” said Babcock. “This could mean eating out at a local restaurant a few days a week or buying gift cards to your favorite local small business that may have cash flow issues in the coming weeks.”

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