How COVID-19 is affecting small business owners

Olivia Borgula, Staff Writer

2 months ago, a state-wide stay at home order was unimaginable. Now, small businesses in our community have to face the reality of losing money, customers, and products. They will be forced to question if their business can survive a pandemic.

Many of these small businesses rely on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to ensure they can recover from the crisis. However, PPP will only be effective if the funds go to communities and businesses that need them the most.

Originally, PPP was intended to give small businesses enough money to keep employees on the payroll, but Ruth’s Chris Steak House and its 5,000 employees announced that they received $20 million from this program. Out of all businesses, the expensive steakhouse should not be receiving a large number of funds while hundreds of small businesses are left to struggle.  

One issue is that some businesses face a disparity in how they are banked. Many small businesses have never worked closely with a Small Business Association (SBA) bank lender and many don’t have access to capital. This causes some businesses to be deprived of money from PPP. Although a multitude of business owners have to navigate these obstacles to try and regain financial security, the climate for small businesses in Michigan is looking up. On March 19, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the SBA had approved her request for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This gives owners the opportunity to obtain low-interest loans from the SBA. 

This is especially important for the East Grand Rapids Community because of the large number of small businesses that make up Gaslight Village. Mason Jones, formerly Paper’s Plus, struggled for a long period of time in East and relocated to Breton Village, so the small business might need emergency funds after the crisis. 

With over 20 million people out of work in the United States due to Covid-19, it is essential for small businesses in our community to obtain aid from the PPP and SBA to survive this time of loss and uncertainty.