Nearly half of Arizona’s private workforce is employed by small business owners who are seeing massive disruptions to their operations with the spread of COVID-19. While federal and state relief efforts are on their way to help America’s small businesses, there is still a recovery period coming. And, when this storm passes, the road to recovery will start right at their doorsteps on Main Street, USA.
Though it may be difficult during these uncertain times, what Arizonans need to do right now is keep their confidence in our communities and small businesses. City leaders, local chambers, economic development departments, concerned citizens and small business owners are already working together to prepare for our recovery.
This rehabilitation period of the economy will take liquidity and confidence. Business owners and consumers alike must have assurance in their organizations by financially supporting each other. Buying gift cards to your favorite restaurants, sharing a post about your favorite nonprofit or reaching out to your community leaders to share what you need in your neighborhood during this time are all ways to empower our economic recovery.
To maintain these small enterprises, there must also be incentives for employers to hire and retain all employees. The Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) is the first of its kind to encourage Main Street to reinvest in themselves. The PPP authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses to use towards employee’s payroll during the COVID-19 crisis.
This recovery period is beginning before the crisis is over, which will help economies in cities and towns all over Arizona. These cities are already working with local chambers and economic development departments to prepare for the financial well-being of mom-and-pop businesses. This shift in focus will create more consumer confidence and ultimately economic certitude for many American families.
The most important factor in our recovery are the banks, which must push the new liquidity to the public to help increase the recovery time and expectation. The greatest expectation is that banks will support this initiative with small business owners first in mind. The spark to our economy will first come from the local communities we support financially, not through Wall Street.
To stimulate this restoration, businesses and its owners should trust and lean on their chambers of commerce, and their cities’ economic development departments for help, resources, and guidance. Business banks will be a huge resource for getting information and assisting in getting access to the U.S. Small Business Administration loan and the PPP loans.
Arizonans are pioneers and have an impeccable entrepreneurial spirit to help build confidence during this uncertain time. In Chandler, a Facebook group has already been created for restaurant owners to share ideas and information from the local Chamber of Commerce, SBA department and the Chandler Economic Development department. These communal efforts help all small business owners find resources and comfort with those facing similar obstacles.
Politically, mayors and city councils are on the front lines and we hear directly from our business owners. This effort to connect with us is important so that we can share all major concerns directly with our senators and congressmen. Empowering our mom-and-pop business owners is how we will continue to get meaningful opportunities on the table for companies of all sizes and the first step toward recovery of a stronger Arizona.
Mark Stewart is a Chandler councilmember, state ambassador for the Jobs Creator Network and co-founder of micro- and small-business accelerator Concept2Completion.