It seems over the past several weeks we have heard many different recommendations regarding the wearing of face masks. First, we were advised that you should wear a mask so that you don’t spread COVID-19 to others, but that it wouldn’t prevent you from getting it. The most recent recommendation is that everyone should be wearing a mask outside of their home. Aside from the obvious problem that masks have been in short supply, it seems common sense that if everyone wears a mask and practices social distancing, the chances of anyone giving or getting the virus would be greatly decreased.
We need to do what’s right for those around us and for our community. We have all sacrificed too much at this point to start going backward. Let’s follow the guidelines and do our part to knock this out.
Keeping people employed
Many small businesses in our community took major financial hits in the weeks leading up to closure of non-essential businesses, and some were forced to close and lay off or furlough their employees. Despite a significant drop in advertising revenue, here at Press we chose to keep 100% of our team employed. In fact, we even rehired an open seat in our design department. We have managed to this point by trimming expenses, such as decreasing page count to save on printing expense. We made these decisions with the understanding that we would be eligible to receive a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program.
A few weeks ago our government developed the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act in an effort to encourage small businesses to keep people employed during this economic crisis. Parts of the loan would be forgiven by the government if businesses keep their employees on the payroll. It’s a win-win for employees who keep their jobs, and the business who can continue to operate. This loan is crucial for us and many other local businesses whose short-term plans will only last a couple of weeks.
As Congress was finalizing the program we began talking to a number of banks. We ended up applying with a large bank. The bank was slow to open the online portal and the application took us about 12 hours to submit. Within a day we received an email stating our application had been approved and we were on step one of seven. Every few days we received a notice to add more documentation to the loan process, as it was a pretty complex, tight formula based on past staffing levels. Over 13 days we received multiple notifications that looked like our loan was progressing - at one point an email stated that we would get documents to sign within a few minutes and never did. Then last Thursday we received an email telling us that the funding had run out. This was like the seven steps to nowhere. I’ve spoken with many business owners, some who received it and some who didn’t. Perhaps those who had a better relationship with their bank or staff accountants who could pull together their financials in a matter of minutes had better luck than many of the mom and pop shops.
There are many small businesses who want to keep people employed but won’t be able to without this kind of help. Your neighbors and local businesses need it. It sounds like Congress will authorize additional funding this week. Let’s hope the local small businesses who desperately need it and didn’t make the cut in the first round will get it this time.
Keep it local
In the past week individuals throughout the country received a stimulus payment through the Cares Act. The payment is $1,200 per person or $2,400 for married couple who file taxes jointly and $500 for each child. Qualifying people had to make under $198,000 of annual income. This payment was vital to people who lost their job or had their hours cut. On the other hand, people who are fully employed also received it.
I suggest to those who aren’t using their payment to subsidize a loss of income to put it to work stimulating the local economy. Order takeout at a local restaurant, shop at local grocery stores and gas stations. Donate to local causes - food shelves, churches, homeless shelters, community foundations or other organizations meaningful to you. Now is the time to keep it local. When you shop locally it feeds the local economy, local taxes and quite literally, your neighbors.
Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.