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.
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.”