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"A definite need to see that come back and help our businesses" - Guiding Businesses in a Pandemic

Nickie Davis is the executive director of the Downtown Community Improvement District, an organization that works to market downtown businesses to investors, recruit new companies and help pass on valuable information to business owners. KBIA’s DC Benincasa talks with Davis about the challenges local small businesses are facing, along with several silver linings in these difficult economic times. 

Benincasa: Could you maybe outline some of the most common challenges and struggles that local businesses have been facing in this pandemic?

Davis: Well the easiest one is making sure that they understand the constantly changing rules and regulations that are coming out of the different government [bodies].

Everything from the federal to our local here or our state even. And making sure they have that correct information for them to follow and making sure they’re understanding how to apply for the different loans. And also, now that we’ve come to this point almost, making sure they understand how to ask for the forgiveness of those loans so that our businesses are getting that much needed funding during this pandemic.

Benincasa: I talked to an MU financial research analyst, and he talked about how business owners are just going to run through these Paycheck Protection Program loans very quickly. Have you had any experiences with any owners who’ve used these loans that have maybe already used them all up covering expenses or covering rent or employee pay?

Davis: Yeah, absolutely. Probably more than haven’t. That’s what it was there for, and they tried to get their people back to work and get their doors open as much as possible.

And not just the PPP, but the idle, the SBA loan, many of the businesses are running out if they got it in the first place. There are several of our businesses that went through every single application and still have not received their funds. So, yes, that’s a definite need to see that come back and help our businesses survive.

Davis: There are on the flip side of that, there is definitely many businesses that received those funds, found their comfortable footing with these new ordinances and are able to either use this funding at these low interest rates to expand their businesses. Or even some businesses are purchasing other businesses that are closing. And hopefully we will continue to see that.

It was kind of an unexpected thing that came out of that, but as of right now there are a few of those cases happening, which is exciting.

Benincasa: Is there any other option besides some of these state or federal loans? Is there any other silver lining that you’re directing businesses toward?

Davis: Well, any grant or loan opportunity that we can find or that we come across in any fashion that would go to a small business to help them in one capacity or another, we pass along to them.

They have dramatically slowed down, us being able to find these different loans and grants.  But they are out there and we do pass them along. And then we rely on our amazing community. We have had such an outpouring from our community. Whether that’s using our curbside pickup or buying gift cards now and using them later or just making sure that one way or another our small businesses know that the community is there for them and they are hearing how difficult this time is and doing what they can has been kind of amazing to watch.

So, I think our businesses obviously rely on the community, but are really relying on their kindness and understanding right now.