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Small business owners pleading for federal aid during omicron surge

Small business owners pleading for federal aid during Omicron surge
Posted at 9:40 PM, Jan 29, 2022

CLEVELAND — As the U.S. continues to deal with the omicron surge, many small businesses owners are struggling to stay afloat. Now, they’re calling on Congress to provide additional federal aid to help them keep their heads above water.

Data from a new national survey conducted by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices reports that small business owners are being pushed to the brink with an unprecedented set of challenges hurting their bottom line.

The organization said 79% of business owners surveyed are concerned about the pandemic and the omicron variant, 71% said the surge caused by the variant had adversely impacted their revenue, and 37% said they had to temporarily close or scale back operations due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Well, the omicron variant has kicked up another slow down,” said Cindy Barber, the co-owner of the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.

Barber said the music venue was on a roll in October and November before being forced to shut down for two to three weeks in December due to the omicron surge.

“Bands were getting COVID So they had to cancel. So you never know from day to day still whether the show's going to happen that night or not, which is a little torturous right now,” said Barber.

She said they’re dealing with a lot of other challenges too, like finding enough people to staff the kitchen and stocking up on items they need due to supply chain issues. And they’re not the only ones.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Voices reports 87% of small businesses hiring said they can’t find qualified candidates while 97% said labor shortages are hurting their bottom line. That’s a 17% increase from September 2021.

“The feedback we basically got from the survey was that government aid has run out, things are getting worse, and I think small businesses are in a bit of a void right now when it comes to access to capital,” said Joe Wall, the national director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses Voices.

Wall said both the PPP money running out and the COVID EIDL Loan program ending in 2021 were a big blow to businesses and they need that kind of aid to make a comeback.

“What we're asking for is to kind of just flip the light back on for some of the existing programs that have already been, even to some extent, have money left over that just need to be pushed open again so that small businesses can access,” said Wall.

Barber is urging Congress to take a look at the Goldman Sachs data and make some moves.

“I think Congress needs to really look at small businesses and how they could support them with workforce incentives and tax incentives going forward,” said Barber.

In the meantime, she’s inviting people to the ballroom for a fun and safe night out.

“We're trying to be careful with vaccine checks and negative tests to make sure everybody's safe. But everyone's welcome to come and see music here,” said Barber.

Despite the struggles, Wall said business owners are staying strong with 73% saying they’re optimistic about this year.

“Small business owners, when they wake up every day, they not only have to worry about themselves, their family, their employees, but for a lot of them, they're the epicenter of their community,” said Wall.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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