Blog Archive

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Small Businesses Got Emergency Loans, but Not What They Expected

A dress on a mannequin at the office of Caroline Keefer, a clothing designer, in Los Angeles on July 18, 2020. (Nolwen Cifuentes/The New York Times)
A dress on a mannequin at the office of Caroline Keefer, a clothing designer, in Los Angeles on July 18, 2020. (Nolwen Cifuentes/The New York Times)

For nearly 70 years, the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief program has helped companies recover from catastrophes including wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes. But it has never faced anything like the coronavirus crisis.

Besieged by more than 8 million applicants — and operating in the shadow of the hastily assembled Paycheck Protection Program — the disaster relief effort has given out more money in the past few months than it had in its entire history.

But the demand has created a problem that is hobbling hundreds of thousands of applicants: The agency, afraid of running out of cash, capped its coronavirus loans at a fraction of what companies can normally borrow — even though the program has handed out less than half the $360 billion

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Businesses pivot to meet the demand for COVID-19 disinfection

Jeffery B. Hardy Sr., left, owns Sanitation & Disinfecting Service in Milwaukee. His crew gets ready to do a Covid19-type cleaning at Community of Grace Baptist Church in Milwaukee.
Jeffery B. Hardy Sr., left, owns Sanitation & Disinfecting Service in Milwaukee. His crew gets ready to do a Covid19-type cleaning at Community of Grace Baptist Church in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE – As more people are allowed back into offices, restaurants and hotels under the City of Milwaukee’s re-opening plans, the need for disinfection is greater than ever.

Pest 2 Rest Pest Control, a family-owned extermination company, is one of the many businesses that now specialize in COVID-19 disinfection.

“There is a 0.1% difference between sanitizing and disinfecting,” said Jeffery Hardy Sr., the co-owner of Pest 2 Rest. “So, sanitizing, you’re cleaning; disinfecting, you’re killing the virus. And that’s what we’re encouraging people to do.”

He also encourages clients to have a plan of action after his job is done.

Hardy’s business, as its name would suggest, started out killing bed bugs, roaches, rodents and other critters. Since March, Hardy chose

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Walmart calls on small businesses to participate in ‘Open Call’

In 2017, the Florida-based company, ExcelCare Products, managed to place its “Mimaditos” baby wipes — a brand that was founded in Venezuela — on the shelves of the largest retailer in the United States. But what is the secret behind that achievement?

According to Fabiana Vaamonde, marketing and sales manager at ExcelCare Products, the success is due in large part to the company’s participation in Walmart’s “Open Call” — an annual event through which entrepreneurs and small business owners can present their products to the company’s buyers for the opportunity to launch their merchandise in thousands of stores nationwide.

“Going to Open Call was everything. Just being at Walmart and being able to use it as a business card to other customers and having the opportunity to stock our products in 100 Florida stores and then put our brand on Walmart.com, the truth is that the change has been impressive

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Pandemic Forces Digital Change on Japan’s Analog Businesses

(Bloomberg) — The coronavirus pandemic may be a drag on economies across the globe, but in Japan it’s bringing long-overdue change in work habits and tools.

About 90% of Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co.’s non-manufacturing employees have worked from home. Department-store chain Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. is using video chats to offer shopping suggestions online, while smaller enterprises are emracing digital tools. Digital signatures are finally taking hold, replacing official stamps and seals.

Despite being at the forefront of technologies ranging from imaging chips to electric-vehicle batteries, Japan ranked 23rd out of 63 nations in digital competitiveness last year, according to the International Institute for Management Development. While a chronic labor shortage caused by a declining population was already spurring businesses to automate, the Covid-19 outbreak is pushing the transition to the digital workplace into higher gear.

“Many companies small and large have talked about digitization as being important, but

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Businesses turn to tech as they reopen

When employees at the 3D bioprinting company Cellink went back to the office Monday after nearly five months, they were required to clip a small piece of Bluetooth technology onto their clothes before walking through the office’s front doors.

The devices, made by the Austrian company Safedi, are intended to make sure people are socially distancing in the office. A green light shines when people are at least six feet apart.

A red light flashes and the device emits a noise when people get too close.

“Safedi has already shown its value in just one day, especially when it’s time for those coffee breaks,” Cellink CEO Erik Gatenholm said.

The devices are one example of the varied and sometimes bizarre tech-infused solutions businesses are using in an effort to get their employees back to work and offer their customers a safe environment amid the ongoing outbreaks of the coronavirus in

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How Food Businesses Nationwide Are Responding

These are unprecedented times. It seems like the whole world has been brought to its knees, from the rapid and destructive spread of COVID-19 to the protests in response to police brutality and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The food industry isn’t exempt. So as things develop, we’ve asked people working in the food industry, from coast to coast, to share what they’re seeing in their communities, how they’ve been affected, and how they’re responding.

Wednesday, July 22

“As a restaurant owner, you lose in any direction you take. You lose if you stay closed, you lose if you stay open.”

Nina Compton, Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans: They closed the bars again here last week. Restaurants can still operate at 50 percent capacity—right now Compère Lapin is closed and Bywater American Bistro is operating at 50 percent—but we’re living week

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How To Support Black Owned Businesses In Waltham

WALTHAM, MA — Amid civil rights demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many are left wondering how they can help causes of racial equality and support the Black and Brown communities. At Black Lives Matter rallies across Greater Boston area speakers are encouraging participants and allies to support Black-owned businesses.

But what does that mean in Waltham?

There are more than 1,000 black-owned businesses across the state and Black Economic Council of Massachusetts Executive Director Segun Idowu said a good start is to frequent those, including at least a dozen in Waltham.

“It’s a critical moment because people are looking beyond police brutality and seeing it for what it is: a systemic issue,” Idowu said.

That systemic issue is connected to the economy, he said.

Previous Black Lives Matter protests seemed to focus on policing, but today in the context of COVID, it has laid bare

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More Than 200 Businesses Receive HoCo RISE Business Relief Grants

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — More than 200 Howard County businesses have received grants in the first round of funding issued by the HoCo RISE Business Relief Grant Program. Howard County officials allocated $5.7 million in CARES Act funding toward the grant program to provide financial assistance to businesses in targeted sectors that have been most impacted by the coronavirus and plan to reopen. New grants supporting local childcare businesses and the hotel industry have been established, too.

“All of us are trying to get by and move forward. I applaud those making sacrifices in the hope that we will make an impact and save lives, including Howard County small businesses. The first 203 recipients of these grants provide jobs, value and support to our community, and we want to ensure that they too are able to survive,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “These grants address immediate needs and ensure

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$20M In Grants For Camden County’s Small Businesses Amid Pandemic

CAMDEN COUNTY, NJ — Small businesses in Camden County will share in $20 million worth of federal grants amid the coronavirus pandemic, local officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

The county has received federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist struggling businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The funding is for both profit and nonprofit organizations, and priority will be given to businesses that have not received state or federal funding already.

“We know the business community, especially the foundation of our economy, small businesses, have been hurting and are in need of dire relief,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said. “We need to ensure that every proprietor and principal of a small business has access to these grant funds in order to help maintain and stabilize their operations. Moving forward the grants have the potential to provide a business owner with up to

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COVID-19 turned college towns into ghost towns and businesses are struggling to survive

AMHERST, Mass. — For more than a century, the office supply store A.J. Hastings has opened its doors to the public every day without fail, a community staple in a quintessential college town.

That streak endured through the 1918 flu and world wars, national holidays and even a move. “Through thick and thin,” said Sharon Povinelli, who co-owns the store with her wife, Mary Broll.

Located in the heart of Amherst, the store has been a mainstay for students at Amherst College and Hampshire College, and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts.

“We’ve been here almost as long as the universities here,” Povinelli said.

The third-generation-owned business never broke its opening streak — until the coronavirus pandemic hit. A.J. Hastings, along with millions of other businesses across the country, closed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19, while colleges shut down their campuses and turned to remote

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