COVID relief too late for many small businesses

The second round of COVID relief money is coming too late for many small businesses. According to the website Yelp, 8,900 businesses in Texas had closed permanently through the end of September. Another 5,300 had closed temporarily.

Dallas/Fort Worth had the most closures in Texas and the fifth most in the nation with 2,700 permanent and 1,400 temporary closures.

“We were like Wile E. Coyote who ran off a cliff and kept running and didn’t notice he had run off a cliff,” says Ian MacLean, the chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council. “Small business is the driving force of the economy. They create an incredible number of jobs. When you have small businesses affected like they have been, they are less resilient than big box stores.”

According to the Small Business Administration, businesses with fewer than 500 employees make up 45% of all employment in Texas.

MacLean also owns Highland Landscaping in Southlake. He met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week to talk about how small business owners can navigate through the application process for the second round of COVID relief when it is passed.

He says many small business owners did not apply in the first round because the process was too complicated. MacLean says those businesses can still apply this time.

“Maybe a business owner thought they were going to be okay and get through the year, and the pandemic was going to end by mid-summer, so they didn’t apply for PPP-1. Now, they’re in need of funds, they can go ahead and apply for PPP 2.0,” he says.

But given the number of closures, MacLean says many businesses are now receiving bills for personal protective equipment or other expenses they bought this summer. He says businesses that have closed permanently are not eligible for additional loans to pay those bills coming due.

“I heard that question specifically asked: ‘I had to close my business, but I have all these bills. Can I get a PPP loan to pay some of those bills?’ The answer was, ‘No,'” MacLean says.

Small businesses getting their second loan can only have up to 300 employees instead of 500. Those businesses will have to show a 25% drop in revenue from the fourth quarter of 2019.

The deadline to apply for a loan is March 31, 2021. Details can be found here.