By Annie Spillman
Social distancing may be necessary right now, but it's taking a toll on small businesses.
State-specific numbers aren't available, but I am the Texas director of the National Federation of Independent Business, and a recent NFIB survey found that 76% of the nation’s small business owners report being impacted in some way by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over half say sales are down, while 23% say the coronavirus has affected their supply chain. One in five owners surveyed by NFIB said the outbreak hasn’t affected them, but most think it will eventually.
This troubles me because small business is the heart and soul of Texas’ economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.6% of all employers in the state, and they employ about 44% of the state’s workforce.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The economic stimulus package would help ease the economic strain caused by the coronavirus by providing cash flow and liquidity to small businesses here in Texas and nationwide.
But that's only the start of the process. The CARES Act is now pending in the House, and Texas' small businesses need relief now.
That's why we're asking everyone to continue supporting small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
• Go through a drive-thru or get takeout or deliver. Restaurant dining rooms may be closed, but their kitchens are open, and please remember to tip your delivery driver.
• Shop small online. Local businesses may be closed, but their websites are still up, and many are still taking orders.
• Buy gift cards or gift certificates to locally-owned shops and restaurants. Purchases them online or over the phone and spend them once the outbreak is over.
Small business, after all, is the engine that drives the Lone Star State's economy. Small businesses account for 99.8% of all businesses in Texas, and they employ about 45% of the state’s workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
And unlike chain stores and restaurants, which may be owned by big corporations based someplace else, small businesses are owned by our family, friends, and neighbors. They create jobs, and they support our communities, buying ads in high school yearbooks, donating to local charities and civic groups and putting their names on the backs of our children's soccer jerseys.
Small businesses do a lot to help our communities. It's time our communities returned the favor and helped small businesses. Small business owners are determined to get through this, and they're ready to deliver the goods and services their customers need while following the rules and keeping everyone as safe and secure as possible.
Supporting local stores and restaurants now will lessen the impact this outbreak is having on our communities. It will help save jobs and make the local economy stronger because when we help small businesses, we help everybody.
Annie Spilman is the Texas state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.