Local businesses get hit hard as an effect of COVID-19

BY HALLE SHAEFFER, MICAH BECK AND MORGAN PORPORA

Small business owners are among the hardest hit in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. In response to this, U.S. lawmakers are working tirelessly to create a cash infusion system for small businesses that have been affected by the unsteady economy and governors’ orders made necessary by the pandemic. However, some think even that may not be enough.

The Senate’s stimulus package contains $349 billion in emergency loans (separate from the $2 trillion for citizens) to be distributed as loans to small businesses through the Small Business Administration. Self-employed workers and freelancers, such as Doordash deliverers and Uber drivers, are also eligible for loans. The bill also includes a loan forgiveness component for businesses that retain their employees, forgiving certain loan portions used for expenses such as rent, utilities, mortgage and payroll.

“Small businesses in all 50 states are now eligible to apply for a loan of up to $2 million to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid due to COVID-19’s impact,” says Brooke DeCubellis, a public affairs specialist for the Columbus, Ohio branch of the Small Business Administration (SBA). “The SBA is also working with economic development partners to help small businesses through virtual counseling and online webinars.”

As Ohio Governor Mike Dewine has ordered the closure of many nonessential businesses, this has left local Wadsworth businesses worried about their future. Some restaurants have decided to stay open strictly for takeout orders. The owners of both Dolce at the Strand and Valley Cafe have decided to move all of their services into one building. They now offer takeout from both restaurants all out of Valley Cafe.

 “Everything is available online which is great because it is active and reports the current flavors of gelato,” said Nicole Mikoda.

They are, much like other restaurants, choosing to plan week by week. Shopping locally can be crucial during times of closure where they do not have the funds of corporate companies. Many community members find the importance of shopping and eating locally and have been doing so up until closure.

Bidingers Ice Cream, like many local businesses, will be closed until further direction from Governor Mike Dewine. Photo by Halle Shaeffer

“The outpouring support of local businesses has been amazing,” said Mikoda. “I think people are really going to be wanting to get together and support local businesses after all of this is done.” 

Valley Cafe and Dolce on the Strand will continue to offer online orders for pickup until directed otherwise.

Other local businesses have been affected as well, such as Bidinger’s Ice Cream. Bidinger’s has closed as it is deemed nonessential. 

“In compliance with the stay-at-home order, we will remain closed until early April,” said owner, Dave Bidinger. 

Buying locally will help most of these businesses stay afloat after quarantine has ended. Major corporations such as Target or Walmart will not be as drastically affected by hour cutbacks. Local operations rely on the support of their town. 

Makeup artist and Wadsworth alumnus, Jenna Kuntz, has seen a decline in business as many weddings and events have come to a halt. 

“COVID-19 has affected my business pretty drastically,” said Kuntz. “Unfortunately, with wedding and prom season quickly approaching, I have had many clients unexpectedly cancel their events due to the virus.”

Small businesses do not always have the resources available to them to be able to close for weeks at a time. 

“I believe I will be able to make up for it,” said Kuntz. “I have decided to open up more dates later in the year for brides to book me with. I also work with a lot of different brands that sponsor me to help with income as well.”

This leaves for many business owners scrambling to make up time and money, some offering extended hours or moving to online services.  

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