Local businesses feeling the impact of COVID-19

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Today, President Trump is speaking to all 50 governors to gauge when each state’s leader believes it will be best to reopen for business.

While Mississippi’s reopening date has not yet been announced, one thing is for certain: our local economy and businesses have taken quite the hit in the wake of COVID-19.

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Like many businesses it’s been far from a picture-perfect year for Negrotto’s Frame and Art Gallery in Gulfport. COVID-19 does not discriminate, the deadly virus has cut lives short and cut into the bottom line of businesses all over. Something 16-year business owner Butch Simpson has seen first-hand. “We are about 93 percent below where we were at this time last year, so we’ve done seven percent of our sales.”

For now, the gallery is closed to the public although appointments can be made online or over the phone. Simpson can’t wait to get his two employees back to work. “It’s not only my business, it’s all small businesses. Small businesses, cash flow is key. Most of us operate on a very tight budget. The best thing I can say to the people is if you can get a gift certificate, do something, stay local, locally-owned. Just keep praying this will be over soon.”

Federal assistance, such as the Payroll Protection Program and SBA loans, are helping many local businesses stay afloat now, and hopefully keep them up and running when it comes to the big picture. Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO Adele Lyons said, “The good news we’re hearing is businesses are starting to get those loans. The PPP program, which is mainly focused on payroll and bringing folks back on. We’re hearing from several of our members and businesses that they have gotten their funds. Now they’re ready to start implementing their plan. Again, it is going to take a little time to bring people back on but those but those are doing what they’re supposed to do.”

“The people of South Mississippi are resilient. They will help each other out. They’ll lift each other up when they need to be lifted up. They work together. They take care of each other. We’ll get through this, just not sure what it’s going to look like on the other side.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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