To make the journey to the top of Mount Everest, mountain climbers from around the globe entrust their lives to the adept and high-altitude adapted Himalayan people known as the Sherpas. Their naturally tanned complexion, even more darkened by the sun’s powerful rays at 29,029 feet above sea level, serve as guides on the arduous ascent to the highest point on the planet. It is a perilous proposition.
When the shelter-in-place order was announced only a few weeks ago (seems much longer than that) we made the decision at the Redding Chamber of Commerce to put on the boots and crampons and grab our ice axes and lead. We know that business people are courageous climbers and that even this current blizzard of uncertainty will not stop you from continuing the journey up the mountain. You can count on us to help you navigate this COVID-19 crisis.
I received a call from a local bank last week saying that they have been overwhelmed by business people coming in wanting to apply for the “Paycheck Protection Program.” I have also received calls from frustrated local business owners expressing that their bank has stopped processing applications due to the volume of requests from customers and non-customers alike. This is a good news/bad news scenario. We are pleased that the word has gotten out that this forgivable loan program is available, but frustrated that the system in place has not been able to keep up with the demand. Our businesses need funds now, not in two weeks, and certainly not in two months. We are not casting blame on the local banks. They are doing all they can to keep their business customers viable. It really was a set-up from the start. The SBA’s 7(a) loan department, under normal circumstances, funds about $50 billion in loans each year according to a local banker’s estimation. This same department is now being asked to process seven times that amount – and virtually all at once. Uncle Sam is printing money at a feverish pace to try to keep up and more is about to be asked. The word is that Congress will likely appropriate up to $250 billion in additional aid for small businesses across the country by next week. Our question is “How will they work with banks to more quickly expedite this process to get the funds into the coffers of local commerce?”.
The Redding Chamber is keeping the pulse of local businesses by working with Mayor Adam McElvain and Vice Mayor Erin Resner on a “small business taskforce”. Participants represent a wide range of industries and have shared their personal circumstances with the group in the hope that it will encourage support from the local government. I have been in talks with local elected officials as well as Redding City Manager Barry Tippin, and Dan Beans and Joe Bowers from Redding Electric Utility. I am encouraged by their willingness to listen and work with us to create some cost saving opportunities for commercial customers. Stay tuned as we expect to make an announcement regarding this in the coming weeks.
Finally, through Redding Chamber University, we have teamed up with Shasta College’s Business Training Center, the SMART Business Resource Center, and Executive Scheduling Associates to bring you a FREE webinar Thursday at 10:00 a.m. It is titled “Leading and Managing Remote Teams” and will provide insights into what is for many a new world of work. See the registration information contained within this e-newsletter.
We take our role as sherpas for businesses very seriously. We will stay with you every step of the way.