Amidst the obvious economic effects of COVID-19, few entrepreneurs have been brave enough to open a new business venture, and with good reason. Just weeks after the pandemic broke ground in the US, thousands of businesses had temporarily, and even permanently, closed while also facing massive layoffs.
However, despite the risks, Medford has still seen new and exciting small business openings including our little shop, and most recently, Deep Cuts Deli; where patrons will be able to enjoy quality deli-style food, live music, and beer post-pandemic. But while we can all look forward to coming back together as a community to enjoy the Deep Cuts Deli experience once normality sets back in, it’s important to not forget about small businesses like this one throughout the chaos as well.
As the pandemic forced nation-wide closures and more insurance companies refused to cover COVID related losses, small businesses were left completely vulnerable while giant corporations who were well equipped to ride out the storm were prioritized for bank and government support. Data released by the government in response to a lawsuit and a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that over half of the $350 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans intended for small businesses went to big businesses instead. In fact, only 5% of small businesses actually received a loan from the first round of the program, while big businesses benefited from loans in the maximum $10 million amount allowed. To make matters worse, banks were also incentivized by high risk exposure for larger borrowers to prioritize big businesses over small borrowers, leaving them to fend for themselves.
Though government aid plans seemed to go awry for small businesses during the first round of PPP loans, many businesses continue to remain hopeful with applications for the second round now open through the end of May 2021, and more stimulus checks coming through. The good news is that more small businesses are expected to receive loans and may even be eligible for loan forgiveness. The bad news? As banks continue to prioritize the higher income lot of small businesses, many of our favorite local businesses are still considered ineligible. Even for those businesses expecting to receive aid, a loan may be enough to keep the doors open and the lights on, but may not cut it for owners and employees to make a living wage.
While choosing small businesses has always been a great way to support your local economy and culture, your community mom & pop shops and others are reliant now more than ever on their communities to stay afloat. So when you’re looking for a tasty takeout spot, try Carroll’s or Raso’s instead of Domino’s or Uno’s. Instead of running to Walmart for your weekly cleaning supply run, try out Trove Green Provisions for a local (and sustainable) alternative. Looking for some new home decor? Check out the work of local artists at Jerome Street Studios instead of perusing through the aisles in Target. You get the point. While shopping small can sometimes be difficult, your local shop owners may just smile that much bigger when they greet you after the turmoil is settled.