It's no question that America's small businesses took one of the hardest economic hits of the entire COVID-19 pandemic. Shutdowns began in March of 2020, leading to the permanent closing of millions of small businesses. And though the U.S. began to open up again in the spring of 2021, a second wave of shutdowns began with the rising statistics concerning the Delta variant of the virus.
One-third of all small businesses in the United States have closed due to COVID-19, according to Vice President and former California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Source: Tampa Bay Times
Data shows that the current closures of small businesses (22%) are at almost the exact same peak as they were in May of 2020 (23%). This is primarily caused by the rise in Delta variant cases, spiking the infection numbers back up and closer to the early pandemic days.
Now, between the ongoing pandemic and natural disasters, small businesses can't seem to catch a break. Hurricane Elsa wiped out the streets of New York City in July, and not long after, Tropical Storm Ida caused irreversible damage from New Orleans to New York on the days it tore through the country, starting on August 29.
Business Insider reports that Tropical Storm Ida's damage will pile on to an already overwhelmed supply chain. This would lead to shortages and price hikes, making it even harder for small businesses to stay on their feet.
AccuWeather projected the storm damage totaling about 95 billion dollars, ultimately coming in as the seventh most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. since 2000. Among the damage, many small businesses were destroyed.
Source: CBS 17
During a year of COVID closures, Congress rolled out programs designed to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll. Unfortunately, these types of programs weren’t designed to be sustainable for more than a year of stress.
Other funding options continue to roll out, as we enter our eighteenth month of the pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Advance cash grants of up to $10,000 for businesses in low-income areas, as well as supplemental follow-up grants.
Companies like Wal-Mart are offering local community grants for eligible nonprofits. GoFundMe, The Barstool Fund and America's Seed Fund are more programs offering grants to eligible businesses.
As for natural disaster relief, small businesses can apply for loans from the SBA through the EIDL. On a state-by-state basis, many state governments are offering financial relief grants. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced $10 million in financial relief for small businesses impacted by Hurricane Ida.
Leaders and government control can continue to place programs to help small business stay afloat amidst the tragedy of the last eighteen months, but still, many will not survive.
Small businesses are the core of our local economy and sense of community, and are made up of some of the most hard-working entrepreneurs in America. Hopefully as the United States continues to grasp control over the pandemic through regulation and vaccines, small businesses will be able to get back up on their feet again.
Until then, please— #shoplocal.