We've got the Governor's office on our side! In this podcast, Bob Bagga and Josh Kerns are joined by Michael Paul Ervick, MBA, Small Business Liaison for the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). He tells us what the Governor's office is doing and can do for small and medium sized businesses.
“It came back after 2008, it’ll come back again.” - Michael Paul Ervick
Has anyone ever dealt with something like this? Are there governmental models that have been looked at for a similar situation?
Yes and no. The wild card is that we have to seal off the environment. We saw a similar economic crisis in 2008. We learned a lot about small businesses at that time and how quickly they could recover. The wild card here is having everything closed down. Perhaps science will have a vaccine ready to go soon which will help us out immensely.
What would you suggest doing first? Where do you start to look for assistance? It seems as if there is a tsunami of information and it is extremely overwhelming.
- Reach out to the SBA. They have been around a long time and a lot of their programs are to help businesses come out of something like this. They have emergency funding. Remember that it does take time because there are over 30 million businesses across the country.
- Make a list of the needs in the business and then determine what you can control versus what is out of your control. For instance if you are a restaurant and your business has been closed for dine in but you can provide take out. Focus on how you can prepare food at a reasonable cost and look at delivery options. Do an assessment on what you can control and then focus on those things.
- Reach out to your neighborhood. Are there other similar businesses that you can work together with? Go out and look at what is in your area. We are all sharing the same problems and working together to solve them will make it easier.
What steps are being taken to help those most in need?
There are over 30 different agencies that have representatives working on these issues. These agencies were already meeting monthly with business owners in the field -- listening and understanding their challenges through the SBRR (Small Business Requirements Workshops). Unfortunately these meetings are no longer able to happen in person, but the State is working to find a way to keep them going virtually.
All agencies have been able to move quickly due to the knowledge of our small business climate and are diving in to help wherever they can. The Employment Security Department, Paid Family Leave Department and Labor & Industries have all been able to provide a wealth of knowledge about their services.
While the State is seeing a great deal of anxiety from small business owners, everyone is working very hard to put together some methodology to help them to assess their business needs and think about what they can do in their business while we are waiting for things to turn back on fully.
What kind of power does the State of WA actually have? Where can you get money from? How much can you access?
One of the biggest strengths of our State and agencies is the capability to organize and coordinate. They are working very closely with the SBA (Small Business Administration) and other federal agencies to coordinate cash relief options. In addition to the Federal and State level agencies, the County and City governments are putting together options for assistance. Sometimes the cities are able to provide the quickest responses. Concentrate on your local market first. While the SBA will be a huge resource, anything they do will take some time. The State is working hard to coordinate the flow of information back into the small business ecosystem.
How much of a challenge is this situation for the State being that we don’t yet know the parameters of damage and extent of need?
If you wanted to look at a comparable event you would have to look at the Spanish Flu over 100 years ago. It took 18 months to work it’s way around the planet. A lot more variables exist in our world today - faster travel, more people, different medical systems. The number one goal at a Federal and State level is to address the health issues and slow the growth curve. While this could potentially make health issues shorter it could also make the economic impact last longer.
The focus must be on finding ways to deliver value in an alternative way that helps everyone survive. There is a lot we don’t know yet. It seems that China is starting to come back with manufacturing but we don’t know if our supply chain will be able to handle it yet.
The good news is that small businesses recover quickest from an economic downturn - much faster than large corporations. Small businesses recover so quickly because they are able to innovate and not get bogged down with bureaucratic controls that big businesses deal with.
Where’s the good news? Is there a silver lining in all of this? Can you offer some hope without unrealistic promises?
Yes. Just by watching groups of people come together like the Business Helping Business group. Collaboration is such a huge factor in getting things organized and restarted. Even though it seems like it at the moment, the economy isn’t as much of a problem. We are the richest nation in the world. We will draw on our reserves to help solve this health and economic crisis. We have resources and that is HUGE.
The health part of this is the number one priority, People should take comfort in that. There are a lot of people not seeing the full picture, unlike WA that has been hit so hard. It is hard to understand if you are not one of the communities that have been hit the hardest. The economy will come back. It came back after 2008, it’ll come back again.
There is a lot of fear right now. House on fire kind of fear. Where do we turn? What’s the number one thing the State is doing and is there a State resource that these business owners should reach out to right away to get relief?
Start with the SBA.
Additional financial relief will come from the Department of Commerce.
Visit business.wa.gov where you will find a lot of resources for all different types of departments. In addition, there is also a directory on that website listing out all of the small business liaisons with their phone numbers and emails. Contact your local representatives directly. We are geared up and ready for these calls. Call centers are set up. We also have live chats and email available.
Will we see legislation to help with taxes or other forms of economic relief?
There are many discussions happening right now to include discussions about taxes at a State level and what can be done to provide some relief.
What else can we do right now?
Contact your lenders, stakeholders and suppliers. Ask them if they are willing to work with you. Tell them your plan. Everyone needs to work together now more than ever! We are moving in the right direction.
For other ways to free up cash flow, please contact us - we want to help our community as much as we can during this time.
Here is a list of resources for businesses in the Seattle, San Diego and Bay Areas to help you thrive during this challenging time.
Finally, we are honored to be able to offer zero interest lines of credit for qualified businesses to help you get what you need now. It can be used to advertise, replace current cash expenses, offer perks to your team and more.
For additional information or with questions please feel free to reach out to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.