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Initiative helps small businesses "get to the other side"

Posted at 7:35 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 09:57:52-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Monday morning Gov. Greg Abbott announced $50 million in small business loans.

"We all agree that we want Texans on payroll, not laid off,“ Abbot said during Monday's Zoom press conference.

Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide loans to small businesses in Texas that have been affected by COVID-19.

"Texas has worked with the LiftFund to help small businesses rebuild after Hurricane Harvey," Abbott said. "Now, we are collaborating with them once again to help small businesses rebuild after COVID-19."

These loans will be available through the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Small-business owners have had to pivot their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christian Bernard is the owner of Sugarbakers and Small Planet.

Like many restaurants, they have shifted to curbside orders and selling groceries.

“Being a small-business owner, there’s tons and tons of risks, and this is one that was never on my radar, a pandemic," he said. "It's a scary time when, all of a sudden, your revenues are almost completely cut off.“

And like many other small businesses, they have applied for government assistance through the PPP.

"We're honestly exploring every avenue out there that we can think of," he said. "We have applications out for different things already."

Programs like these are helping businesses keep their lights on and staff working.

"To be perfectly blunt, I don't know that we would make it without it," Bernard said.

They had to temporarily lay off a few employees at Sugarbakers, but with the help of the PPP, are able to bring them back to work.

"We anticipate being able to ramp back up to where we were when this all started," Bernard said. "Hopefully, as quickly as possible. And we wouldn’t be able to do that without our staff, so to have that support to be able to keep people is huge.“

Similarly, Titan Support Systems Incorporated usually manufactures competitive powerlifting gear, but now, they are producing face masks to stay open and keep their employees working.

Pete Alaniz started the business with his parents in their garage in 1981. He said this is usually their busy season.

"This really hit us real quick," he said. "We went from having a real strong season, to all the orders being canceled, to nothing. We are doing our absolute best to keep all our employees working. They have families and this is how we all make our living. " Alaniz said.

Alaniz said they are in the process of applying for loans such as the PPP.

"Our hope is that with that money, we’ll hopefully be able to keep our people employed and make it through," he said. "Just get to other side. If we can get to the other side and things get back to normal, then we feel like we have a chance at bringing it back. Especially as a family-owned business. I think that's the challenge -- just getting to the other side.“

He said the announcement that even more funds will be available is bringing small-business owners hope -- relief that could lift a weight of their shoulders.

"If it works correctly, it’ll be a lifeline to a lot of businesses," Alaniz said. "The question is: How much will we actually see and when will we see it?"

Gov. Abbott said plans and strategies to reopen businesses in Texas will be announced later this week.