Besides needing funds available for small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, small-business owners need additional support and guidance, as well as opportunities to talk with other small-business owners. Extension is offering virtual question-and-answer “Coping With COVID-19 Town Halls” for small businesses every Wednesday, and webinars on specific topics for small businesses every Friday. The town halls and the webinars are offered in Spanish and English and are aimed at helping small businesses “pivot and adapt” during this challenging time.
Next week is the seventh week of sessions, which includes:
- The town hall, Wednesday, May 27, 9 a.m. for English speakers and at 2 p.m. for Spanish speakers. Panelists include:
- Reyna Mendez, Extension business development instructor
- Juan Salas, Extension business development instructor
- Mike Bindrup, Extension research associate
- Saul Ramos, Small Business Administration deputy district director
- Noe Gonzalez, Prestamos business advisor
- The webinar, “Loan Forgiveness and COVID-19: Navigating Eligibility and Repayment,” Friday, May 29, 9 a.m. for English speakers and at 11:30 a.m. for Spanish speakers. Mendez, Salas, Bindrup and Gonzalez will focus on the Prestamos Paycheck Protection Program, discussing:
- The application for loan forgiveness
- The qualifications of loan forgiveness, including
- Payroll costs
- Interest on Mortgages
- Rates of reduction
- Self-employed business qualifications
During the town halls, there is a short presentation on a given topic or a preview of the Friday webinar during the first 10 minutes. Then, the participants network with one another and drive the discussion, with a panel of professionals and educators helping them troubleshoot challenges they are encountering. The Friday webinars provide information on specific topics to help businesses plan strategically, adapt and succeed.
Organizers say that while many of our state’s businesses are focused on the funding aspects of their businesses, which is natural, they may be overlooking other opportunities to improve their overall business, during and after COVID-19.
“Our goal is to provide resources and educational platforms to help our small businesses, statewide, cope and retool during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Buddy Borden, economic development specialist with Extension’s Business Development Program. “Ultimately, our goal is that when things begin to return to normal, our state’s small businesses will be even stronger.”
Borden said that the they hope to reach businesses across the state, in the north and the south, and in both urban and rural areas.
“While we were really happy to connect with so many businesses in our urban areas, we really want to let our small businesses in the rural areas know that we are here to assist them as well,” Borden said.
Both the town halls and the webinars usually run about an hour. To register or for more information, go to the Extension Business Development Program website. There are also other resources at the website to assist businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, email Borden.