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Winthrop Small Business Center Aids in Local Business Recovery Efforts
ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is on the front lines of helping local businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SBDC has been assisting small businesses with three primary programs: Payroll Protection Program (PPP), Economic Insurance Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Unemployment Insurance.
“It’s important to offer these initiatives to small businesses because they're a lifeline to business survival. Small business is the backbone of our economy,” said Tom George, director of the Winthrop Small Business Development Center.
According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms; 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs; 49.2 percent of private-sector employment; and 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll.
“Most small businesses are struggling with the loss of demand and are doing the best they can during these trying times. Many recognize the need to re-examine their business model and identify ways to reinvent themselves,” George said.
That means businesses have had to adjust from brick-and-mortar stores to more e-commerce and online offerings. Other companies have re-imagined products in the wake of COVID-19 and are now making items like face coverings and hand sanitizer, for instance.
More importantly, business experts agree, small entities need guidance in managing their cash flow. Some of those tips include: asking for deferments from banks and landlords; communicating with suppliers for better terms; lowering inventory cycles; decreasing accounts receivables; and finding alternative markets. Experts also recommend businesses come up with contingency plans to cope with the threat of disasters.
Because of a SBDC partnership that was established four years ago, Mitch Grant, owner of Roasting Company in Rock Hill, knew he could reach out to the SBDC for help, and he is grateful for the programs offered during the pandemic.
“They have been a great resource giving me guidance and advice as it relates to the PPP and EIDL disaster loans. I am so thankful that I have a partner in the SBDC who has been by my side every step of the way,” Grant said.
The SBDC also has been providing training programs on effective re-opening procedures and recovery basics, along with upcoming seminars on marketing techniques aimed at regaining customer trust and loyalty.
“If a small business can survive this pandemic, take the necessary steps of adapting their business models to changing market conditions and lower demand, and managing their cash position to enable them to survive this period of uncertainty, then they will be in a position of greater strength once we return to normal economic conditions,” George said.
Melissa Gladden ‘99, owner and founder of Carolina Recruitment, said the SBDC has been extremely helpful in navigating the pandemic, and she is confident about recovery efforts.
“With the help and assistance of the SBDC, my business is doing better than expected, and I am cautiously optimistic about the future,” said Gladden, who received the 2015 South Carolina Small Business Person of the Year Award.
The Small Business Development Center offers one-on-one, free, consultation services and timely, relevant training for all small businesses. For more information, visit: www.winthropregionalsbdc.org