In February of this year, the Biden administration broadened the eligibility criteria for PPP loans, making it more accessible to businesses with 20 or fewer employees. According to the National Bureau Of Economic Research (NBER) (PDF), 3.3 million – or 22% – of small businesses went out of business between February and April 2020. The NBER also reports that the demographic most impacted during this time was African-American owned businesses. These businesses experienced a loss of 41% in activity just in March and April 2020 alone. Other demographics harshly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic include Latinx, immigrant, and women business owners.
It goes without saying that how we shop has a direct effect on our environment. Purchasing items from large companies and chains usually involves transporting many of the needed parts from long distances, either across several states or internationally. This releases pollution and emissions that are detrimental to our atmosphere in addition to requiring massive amounts of fuel. Conversely, small businesses manufacture their goods locally, sometimes right from their own homes. Small businesses employ people directly from their community, most times with a better wage than chains and franchises will offer. They also often collaborate with other small businesses to provide low-cost marketing and product-boosting for each other. Finally, small businesses put their money directly back into the community by investing in other small businesses and supporting local causes that make a difference.
Supporting small and local businesses not only benefits the economy, but also supports those doing good in and for the community. Take a step further than shopping local, and research your favorite small businesses to see what they stand for. If it’s not readily available online, reach out to them and ask. When you find businesses that reflect your beliefs and support reputable organizations, promote them on social media, to friends, to family, or at work. Every customer and each purchase matters to these businesses!
2020 taught us quite a few lessons – the value of seeing a smiling face, the importance of quality time with the ones we care about, and the impact we each have in one another’s lives. The common denominator in these lessons boils down to one thing: community. So this month, invest in community. Support independent retailers near you and online. The lessons of the pandemic don’t have to stay in the pandemic. Let’s bring them into the future and, in doing so, make it a better one.
By Heather Madara