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Saving small businesses essential to America's economic recovery

Saving small businesses essential to America's economic recovery
Posted at 3:23 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 15:42:10-04

Small businesses employ roughly half of all Americans, but new data is showing many of these businesses are closing permanently.

“It’s an excruciatingly hard decision,” said Martha Studstill. “You know small business owners put their heart and soul into their business.”

For more than a decade Studstill has owned a small gift shop, Uptown Gifts, in South Carolina.

“Until COVID came along we were buzzing,” said Studstill.

Originally, in March, the plan for Uptown Gifts was to close temporarily for a few weeks. However, the shop has now been closed for more than three months. She has only been able to list items online, resulting in sales being down by 75%.

However, sales aside and more importantly to Studstill, the danger of COVID-19, especially for someone her age, hasn’t subsided.

“When we closed on March the 16, I really had no idea we would be where we are at today,” said Studstill.

Studstill thought she would be reopening, not only earlier, but to fewer cases of COVID-19.

Cases have actually been on the rise in her state. The uptick started most distinctly after reopenings. So, with the financial risk and uncertainty added to Studstill’s health risk of running the shop, she feels closing is her only choice.

“I think if I were younger, I would not have made the same decision, but I am where I am at,” she added.

Around the country, there is a wave of permanent business closures happening. One report done by Yelp shows more than 143,000 businesses listed on its platform closed between March and June. Now, roughly 35% of those businesses have indicated their closures are permanent. Most of those businesses closing are small businesses.

“The numbers that are coming out are really sad,” said Frank Knapp with Small Business for America’s Future.

Knapp heads the newly formed organization, pushing for better help for small businesses in Congress’ next stimulus package.

“Our proposal for Small Business for America’s Future is that we need to put together grants for the really small businesses to help them get through this recession so that they are healthy on the other side and our economy can get back up and running again,” said Knapp.

Saving small businesses could save jobs and be the fastest way to rebound the economy.

“Small businesses hire about 50% of all workers in this country,” said Knapp, “We know from the last recession, it was small businesses that got us back on our economic feet again, not big businesses. Small businesses did the hiring right away.”

“I think that this could be a defining moment where the general public could see just how important small businesses are to their community,” added Studstill.

Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.