Some small businesses in Mississippi are relying on grants and loans to survive the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but some businesses still need extra support.
The Mississippi back to business grant began accepting online applications last week. It offers small businesses with fewer than 50 employees up to 25 thousand dollars in Coronavirus relief funds. Dawn Starns is state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. She says grants and forgivable loans are important to help small businesses that support their local communities. Starns says “Without those folk, you lose your tax base. You lose the jobs that they create. And you lose that sense of community. So it really is a reinvestment in the heart and soul of communities across Mississippi.”
Joe Reeves is President of Rogers Florist in Tupelo. He says last month the company received a 2,000 dollar grant from the state that’s helping keep the lights on, but business is still slow. “I don’t have to take in as much money on the front end if I’ve already know I got those paid for, so I mean obviously yes it’s gonna help," says Reeves. "If a person hasn’t been able to go to work at his job for a couple of months, he’s gonna buy his groceries before he buys flowers. I feel trapped, there’s nothing that I can really do.”
A family-owned furniture store in Natchez has lost almost two months of sales because of the Coroanvirus. Darby Short, owner of Darby’s Furniture and Interiors, says her business qualified for 75 thousand dollars in PPP loans, but that money is already gone. She didn’t know about the state’s Back to Business grant but is excited to apply. Short says “Anything would help. It’s kind of a scary time. I will tell you that whatever it takes, we’re gonna do it to survive. We’re too dedicated to our employees and to our town to not do what it takes to survive.”
According to the Federation of Independent Business, around fifty percent of Mississippi’s workforce is employed by small businesses.