Coronavirus small business financial crash

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava (District #8) brought together experts to discuss small business recovery at a virtual town hall meeting on April 29.

Attending the call were Dr. Roderick King from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Professor Edward Murray from FIU, and Maria Coto Executive Director of Partners for Self-Employment.

“This is part of our Community Care series on a range of topics we’ve been running for a month and a half on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” said

Commissioner Cava.

The Commissioner said 1500 people responded to her survey on the impact of COVID-19. The results showed 23% of respondents applied for unemployment insurance.

“90% of those who applied have not yet received any benefits,” said Commissioner Cava. “The good news is benefits will be retroactive to the date of job loss.”

Results also showed 23% of those surveyed applied for some government assistance for their businesses and 80% of those had not received any benefits.

The Miami-Dade County Mayor ordered County parks and marinas to reopen after 6 am Wednesday April 29 with monitoring to avoid violations of social

distancing. A survey on the conference call showed 50% thought it time to reopen with 50% concerned that it was unsafe. The Commissioner said the County is paying a lot of money for monitoring but not all cities have gone along with the County’s policy because they don’t have that level of monitoring.

“To responsibly reopen, three measures must be in place,” said Commissioner Cava. “We must have a sustained decrease in the number of new cases, a decrease in the percentage of cases that are positive, and the necessary public health workforce to expand testing and do contact tracing – follow-up on anyone who may have been exposed for isolation and quarantine for people who may be contagious.”

The Commissioner said we have to take care of both our economy and our health.

Asked about further federal stimulus measures, the Commissioner said, “I was on a Town Hall with Congresswoman (Donna) Shalala and she’s already working on the next stimulus package. It’s very much focused on small business, the delays in the unemployment system, and also on small local government that’s without a direct path to assistance. Small government is laying people off because they don’t have the funds and need relief.”

Dr. Roderick King said that every virus is different so we don’t really know if people are immune who had COVID-19. Since there is no vaccine, the

community needs to build a strategy to cope.

“Hope is not a strategy,” said Dr. King. “A colleague from Harvard said we must aggressively implement a five weapon strategy: continue social distancing, adopt full scale testing for everyone, get aggressive on contact tracing (when someone tests positive, figure out all their contacts and trace those individuals down to test), quarantine or isolate those testing positive, and provide treatment for the sick.”

Professor Edward Murray profiled small business in Miami-Dade County. The usual definition of small business is one having less than 500 employees. Of 82,983 businesses in this County, 81% have less than 10 employees. He said 82% of loan applications from these small businesses aredenied.

“Capital is a big issue for our businesses,” said Professor Murray.

“Talent is another issue in growing business. With those denial rates, there is a lack of growth and high failure rates. We need to start now with better planning to sustain business.”

Partners for Self-Employment was founded in 1993 with a mission of providing financial training services to low income families. Executive Director Maria Coto said most federal government assistance was not designed for very small or micro-businesses.“The popular PPP program with forgivable loans requires you to be issuing paychecks and to have staff, “said Coto. “The 1099 independent contractors are not staff. You are encouraged to have an established banking relationship – most banks are making sure their current

customers have access to the program. The amount you qualify for limits very small businesses because those loans are not cost effective for banks.”

Coto noted the second round of PPP applications opens Monday May 4 but should end very soon as earlier applications that missed funding can now be processed.

“The SBA is not accepting any more applications for the economic disaster loans,” she said. “My office knows about local micro-lenders who can help, so I’ll share that information with the Commissioner’s office.”

Interested parties can register online at Commissioner Cava’s website to attend future town halls on COVID-19 economic recovery and related issues.

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