Revenue/cash flow, payroll expenses and rent/lease/mortgage concerns? Sound familiar? You’re probably not alone.
Those issues are listed as the most pressing concerns from the 1,200 responses to the City of Fort Worth’s COVID-19 Business Survey concerning how the COVID-19 epidemic is impacting Fort Worth businesses.
Other concerns below those top three include debt relief, workforce challenges, and utilities.
Also from the survey:
• 47% of responding businesses indicate a decrease in revenue by at least 60% as of March 1.
• 57% of responding businesses do not have a remote work/teleworking policy in place, and 58% do not have company leave policies that contain guidance for these types of situations.
• 78% of responses came from businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
• The top three industries to respond to the survey are professional services, hospitality/tourism businesses, and service providers. Other industries include aviation and aerospace, food production, health care, manufacturing, arts & entertainment, retail, and more.
A survey sent out to Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce members reflected similar needs. Additionally, 49% of business owners in the Chamber’s survey indicated that they would not be able to sustain their business longer than a few months if current trends continue.
A public dashboard with this survey data is available online.
The city’s Small Business and Economic Recovery Advisory Committee, which held its first meeting last week, will be using this data to inform their developing initiatives in coming weeks, according to the city.
Local efforts for small businesses
Small businesses can visit the city’s COVID-19 Information for Business page for a list of available resources and support. The page, which is being updated daily, includes information on essential versus non-essential businesses, how to create a business continuity plan, information on the Shared Work Program from Texas Workforce Commission that could be used as an alternative to lay-offs, information on taxes, utilities, and how to file for unemployment; and information on disaster assistance and other financial loans from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA).
Some of these initiatives include:
• The Artist Relief Fund is a local collaboration between United Way, Hear Fort Worth, and Film Fort Worth to support musicians, visual artists, and filmmakers. Qualified applicants will be eligible for a one-time grant of $300.
• The AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant from Texas Women’s University assists Texas-based, woman-owned businesses impacted by COVID-19. A total of $1,000,000 is available, spread between 100 grant awards.
• Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits through their Small Business Grants program.
• The James Beard Foundation is providing micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.
• JPMorgan pledged a $50 million global philanthropic commitment, including $2 million to existing nonprofit partners and $8 million to assist small businesses.
• Kabbage is an online hub that small businesses can use to sell gift cards to consumers for later use.
• MainVest, a crowdfunding platform, announced its new Main Street Initiative: a $2,000, zero-interest, 120-day loan for restaurants and other brick and mortars affected by the shutdown.
• Opportunity Fund , which specializes in lending to small businesses owned by women, immigrants, and people of color, is collaborating with investors and nonprofits to put together a fund that will provide grants and low-interest rate loans.
Area banks are also working with their small business clients.
For instance, Bank of America can be reached here.
More funding sources and other resources are being added daily, so businesses are encouraged to check back often. Of particular note is a loan package that the City of Fort Worth is looking to put together a loan package for small businesses, though the details are still being ironed out.
“We realize that this has been an extremely challenging time for our business owners as they try to adjust to their new normal,” said the city’s Economic Development Director, Robert Sturns. “The city and all of our partners are working diligently to come up with solutions, and provide as much information as we can on ways to navigate this difficult situation. But it will take more than just one organization – a solution for something like this will truly need to be a team effort.”