Although the unemployment rate has been dropping, that doesn’t mean business is getting back to usual. Many Palm Beach businesses have closed their doors for good and a large number are still struggling, hoping to ride out the pandemic. While some Palm Beach businesses are operating online, that’s not an option for many.
“Spring was a wash of a season and we figured that out quickly,” the owner of Kirna Zabete told the Palm Beach Daily News.
Coronavirus cases are slowing down, but restrictions are slow to lift
The Miami Herald reported that by mid-September, Palm Beach had 173 new coronavirus cases for a total of 45,329 with sixteen new hospitalizations. However, no new deaths were reported, leaving the Palm Beach death toll at 1,277.
Even though case numbers are dropping, restrictions haven’t been lifted in full and the city is struggling to keep retail shops open. Twenty-three vacancies on Worth Avenue and six vacancies at The Royal Poinciana Plaza have been reported.
Virtual and in-person schooling options support entrepreneurs
Unlike other U.S. cities, students in Palm Beach can choose whether to attend school in person or stay home and learn virtually. While this is great news for kids who prefer to learn online, it’s also good news for entrepreneurs who can’t stay home with their young children without giving up their businesses.
Palm Beach is home to plenty of entrepreneurs and the ability to send their kids to school gives them a better chance at maintaining their business throughout the pandemic. It’s also a lifeline for new entrepreneurs just starting businesses in order to be self-sufficient during these hard times.
Financial assistance options are available to Florida’s small businesses
The Paycheck Protection Program ended on August 8, 2020. However, there are two more financial assistance programs Florida business owners can pursue.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Florida business owners impacted by COVID-19 who employ between 2-100 employees are eligible to apply for a short-term loan through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program.Florida business owners impacted by COVID-19 who employ between 2-100 employees are eligible to apply for a short-term loan through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program. This program provides short-term loans, interest-free (for up to 1 year), in amounts up to $50,000.
To qualify for an Emergency Bridge Loan, a business must have been established before March 9, 2020 and be able to prove the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the business. For example, proving economic impact might include showing proof of forced business closure, having to go out of business, going into debt to sustain the business during a closure, etc.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds must be used as working capital for normal operations.
Most Palm Beach industries should recover well with some modifications
Although it’s not clear when the pandemic will end, most Palm Beach industries should recover well. However, many businesses will be new. Those businesses that had to close their doors for good will likely never return.
COVID-19 will leave a mark on businesses for a long time. The pandemic is not over yet, and it might be a while before restrictions are lifted. During this time, some businesses will be able to operate normally, while others will need to make strict modifications.
For instance, chiropractic offices that see one patient at a time won’t be largely impacted because patients can wait in their cars before being seen. However, gyms will need to get creative.
Instead of just limiting the number of people who can be in the gym, their in-house trainers could lead live online training sessions that can also be watched on-demand. Most people won’t have access to gym equipment at home, but most exercises can be done with dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands. Palm Beach gyms would be smart to seek partnerships with fitness equipment manufacturers to offer special deals to members.
Small businesses in the accommodation and food service industries will be the slowest to experience a full recovery. Since travel is heavily restricted, hotels and even Airbnb rentals won’t see normal capacity anytime soon.
Food service businesses will have to rely on curbside and delivery options for a majority of their revenue. Dine-in services will be restricted according to lower seating capacity requirements, which may not return to normal for a long time.
For now, small businesses in Palm Beach should seek assistance wherever possible to get the best chance at surviving and thriving post-pandemic.