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A ray of hope for small businesses - Kitsap Sun

A ray of hope for small businesses - Kitsap Sun


A ray of hope for small businesses - Kitsap Sun

Posted: 01 May 2020 12:54 PM PDT

Niran Al-Agba, MD, Columnist Published 10:52 a.m. PT May 1, 2020

There is just something about Jimmy Stewart in the timeless classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." Set in fictional small-town Bedford Falls, Stewart plays George Bailey, the stalwart elder son of a local small business owner, who tussles and then triumphs over the greedy Mr. Potter, the man who controls nearly every business in town — that is, except the Building and Loan owned by the Bailey family, where townspeople can get a fair deal to buy a home of their own. 

While most Americans believe that the little guys with the big hearts should win, our economy has veered off in a completely different direction: since the 1980s, the Potters have been crushing the Baileys of the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacted a heavy toll on the nation's small businesses. What happens when "little guys," like the Baileys, see no end in sight to an unrelenting viral assault?

All hope is never lost. 

In 2020, hope comes wrapped in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which authorized billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.  In this country, only 18,000 businesses have more than 500 employees, while 99.9% of businesses are considered small: 30% have one employee; 40% have between 2 and 5 employees; and 10% have between 6 and 10. Politicians claim to care about small businesses, however studies reveal government tax incentives tend to shortchange small business owners. The Paycheck Protection Program is an opportunity to level the playing field and gives the Baileys — or moreover, small business owners and their employees — a genuine fighting chance. 

America's 30 million small businesses generate nearly 50% of our GDP. A 2016 SBA report showed small businesses employ 47.5% of the nation's workforce.  Small businesses create jobs and drive local economies; their employees pay local sales and property taxes. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR), $10 million in sales at Amazon supports 19 jobs, whereas the same volume at small retail stores supports 47 jobs.  In addition, small businesses order supplies from local vendors and offer more locally-produced products.  Small businesses and their employees spend their money locally, are heavily involved in civic activities, and boost key community organizations through service and charity.

I started working at the family business when I was 10 years old; first, as a weekend receptionist and then performing many jobs along the way, including biller, janitor, and medical assistant by the time I was out of high school. Some say an entrepreneur graduates to a bonafide small business owner the first time they make payroll from their own pocket. 

That happened to me in October 2017, the month my father died. And of course, I am not alone.  Every small business owner in this country knows all too well the blood, sweat and tears required to survive in the long-run. 

After patient volume dropped by more than 70%, I applied for a PPP loan. Despite having long-standing relationships with multiple different banks, very few returned my calls. (It appears lenders were chasing corporations like Shake Shack, Ruth Chris' Steakhouse, or the NBA's L.A. Lakers, who secured tens of millions from the PPP, despite the fact each garners $300-$500 million in profits annually.) Kitsap Credit Union, a community-centric and community-supportive bank, helped me when no one else would, to put money directly into the hands of my employees. My practice secured a loan by the close of business on April 15, the afternoon before the program funding was exhausted.   

Anticipating the need for more funding, Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-6) and Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA-3) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand the SBA Paycheck Protection program and ensure that every qualified small business could access critical financial assistance. This past week, Congress approved an additional $370 billion to support small businesses, and set aside a proportion for smaller lenders and credit unions, like Kitsap Credit Union, who strive to support local small businesses, like mine.  To better protect the second round of funding, the Treasury Department issued new guidelines on Thursday April 23 directing publicly traded companies and those with access to other sources of capital to return Paycheck Protection Program loans by May 7 if borrowers cannot certify "in good faith" that they need the loans to keep operating. 

In one unforgettable scene from the film, Mr. Potter argues shutting down the Baileys Building and Loan is best for the townspeople, who are nothing more than "starry-eyed dreamers" chock-full of impossible ideas. George Bailey counters, "Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?" 

Bailey is unequivocally right. The very foundation of small communities across America are the everyday men and women doing the working, paying, living and dying, many whom are employed by small businesses. By extending the Paycheck Protection Program, the nation is not only helping hardworking men and women to keep their jobs and support their families, but at the same time, it is throwing small businesses a life-preserver when they need it most.   

Dr. Niran Al-Agba is a pediatrician in Silverdale and writes a regular column for the Kitsap Sun. Contact her at niranalagba@gmail.com.

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Fundraiser supporting Farmington businesses begins - Daily Journal Online

Posted: 01 May 2020 02:57 PM PDT

Fundraiser supporting Farmington businesses begun

Jessica Mell of First State Bancshares, left, and Discover Farmington board member Laura McLean model T-shirts they are selling to raise donations for downtown businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A T-shirt fundraiser offering a financial boost to downtown Farmington businesses that have had to close their doors or significantly curtail their services due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the brainchild of two women who are long-time supporters of the business community.

The idea of selling the gray T-shirts that read, "63640 Eat. Drink. Shop. LOCAL," emblazoned in black across the front, came up during a recent conversation between friends Laura McLean, a member of the Discover Farmington tourism board, and Jessica Mell of First State Bancshares.

"I talk to a lot of the downtown business owners, and I'm friends with a lot of them," McLean said. "I know that it's been a difficult month or so for everyone. Jessica and I were talking about the downtown businesses and how we hope to see them all make it through these hard times. We started discussing ways that we could help, and that's when we came up with the T-shirt fundraiser idea. I don't know where the idea of the zip code came from. I started looking up things on Pinterest and Google — small business T-shirt ideas — and I saw the zip code and said, 'Oh, I like the zip code idea!'"

Once they came up with the idea, McLean said the pair ran with it.

"The woman who is making the T-shirts for us is actually a downtown business owner herself. She owns The Lovely Lilly boutique in The Factory. She helped us pull everything together quickly so we could get our own T-shirts made to use in promoting the fundraiser. It just kind of flowed from there."

All proceeds from the Facebook-based fundraiser go to Downtown Farmington small and local businesses. To purchase the unisex T-shirt (available in XS-XL sizes), go to the post on McLean's personal Facebook page and:

• Leave a comment with your shirt size and to which downtown business you are donating. Orders can also be placed by private messaging McLean or Mell.

• Click the PayPal link and make a payment in the amount of $20. (http://paypal.me/63640shoplocal)

As of press time Wednesday, 185 shirts had been ordered. The last day to order T-shirts is May 10. Purchasers will be contacted once the shirts have arrived.

"Our local businesses are a huge part of what makes Farmington such a great place to live," Mell said. "It's been difficult to watch many close their doors during this time and worry about their futures.

"We know this fundraiser won't alleviate all their worries or financial burdens, but we hope it shows them how many people need them and are here to support them, while they are closed right now and when they open again."

Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

Virtual Small Business Rally to be Held on May 6th at 7pm - TAPinto.net

Posted: 01 May 2020 10:09 AM PDT

PARSIPPANY, NJ - Small businesses are coming together to discuss concerns, challenges and issues in this new economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morris County business will be attending a virtual rally/roundtable discussion on Wednesday, May 6th at 7pm.  Madison business owner, Joe Falco came up with the idea when he was hearing from so many fellow business owners wondering what to do next.  

"The need for small businesses to come together has never been greater.  There is power, voice and better ideas that come in numbers with collaboration", said Falco, owner of Rose Jewelers in Madison, NJ. 

Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen who is also a small business owner and who has been a vocal supporter of small business owners during this pandemic, will be part of the discussion.  Mayor of Mt. Arlington and Vice President of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Michael Stanzilis will also be attending. Also invited to be a panelist is Rosemary Becchi, a tax and public policy attorney who is running for Congress in CD 11. 

To register for this event you can click here.

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