By Ashley D. Bell
Entrepreneurship is still very alive as a vibrant part of the American dream in urban and rural communities throughout North Carolina and across the 50 states. Our nation’s businesses have received millions of loans through the Payroll Protection Program, saving more than 51,000,000 American jobs this year, including more than 1 million in North Carolina despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 121,000, PPP loans valued at $12 billion have made a historic economic impact for North Carolina small businesses.
I recently joined SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza on a visit to Greensboro. We had the opportunity to tour Ashtae Products, an African American-owned hair care products provider. Ashtae may be credited for its significant contributions to the historical gains in this past month’s employment numbers, as jobs for African Americans have increased by 404,000 in the United States.
Ashtae’s founder, Ramona Woods, commented that the PPP loan her business received allowed her to keep 12 employees on payroll and “to avoid being trapped between a rock and a hard place: either use your savings to try and keep everyone on board, or you have to let staff go. Those were the only two choices.”
In May and June, a total of 700,000 African American workers nationally are now well on their way to gaining ground in this recovering economy. If this astounding trend continues, over 1 million jobs for African Americans will be added by the end of 2020. There are also refreshing employment numbers for Hispanics and women from June reports: Hispanic employment is up by 1.5 million with a 3.1 % unemployment decrease; and 3 million more jobs were offered and employed by women.
The SBA is proudly advancing its recovery mission of empowering entrepreneurs with tools and resources through the super-connecting help of governors, mayors, community leaders, music influencers, media, citizens, activists, clergy, bankers, businesses — large and small. We have reached out to businesses with under 500 employees as well as independent contractors. In North Carolina, more than 20,000 PPP applicants have identified themselves as self-employed, independent contractors and sole proprietors, making up 72% of small business PPP borrowers. Their excellent individualistic perseverance reminds me of a belief by the late Booker T. Washington who still inspires me today that “success waits patiently for anyone who has the determination and strength to seize it.”
Let us continue to work together toward economic recovery. With the leadership of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, Congress and President Trump, S. 4116 was signed into law on July 4. This bill extends for the commitments of the PPP, giving entrepreneurs until Aug. 8 to access the remaining $100 billion-plus in funds remaining. I encourage all entrepreneurs who have not yet applied to quickly take advantage of the recovery dollars available to them now.
If businesses need assistance in applying for the PPP, a great resource is available to all North Carolina entrepreneurs is the North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Centers (www.sbtdc.org/) which are located across the state and they may assist you virtually. There are SBTDC offices located in Boone/Hickory, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Cullowhee/Asheville, Durham, Elizabeth City /Nags Head, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Pembroke, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem.
If you are ready to apply, you can locate a PPP lender either through the SBA’s Lender Match (www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/lender-match) or by visiting www.sba.gov for a complete listing of COVID-19 resources for small businesses, including a listing of PPP participating lenders.
The SBA is a resource for you as we work together through the recovery process. Please work with the SBA North Carolina District Office (www.sba.gov/nc) and take advantage of the opportunities the PPP may offer you during these challenging times.
Ashley D. Bell is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Southeast regional administrator and an entrepreneurship policy adviser for the White House Opportunity & Revitalization Council.
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