The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration visited the Upstate on Thursday, Sept. 3. Jovita Carranza toured Materials Management in Easley, then attended the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the CommunityWorks Women’s Business Center in Greenville.
During the visit to Materials Management, Carranza spoke about the importance of the Paycheck Protection Program, which the SBA heads, and its impact during the COVID-19 crisis. Materials Management received a PPP loan.
“In many cases, [small businesses] have stated if it weren’t for that type of financial lifeline that was provided during this very unprecedented pandemic period, they would have been pretty desperate to know ‘What am I going to do with my employees?'” said Carranza, noting there are 31 million small businesses in the U.S. employing a total of approximately 60 million people.
Those companies account for 99.9% of U.S. businesses and 47.3% of U.S. employees, according to data from the SBA.
Carranza said the SBA has processed more than 5.2 million PPP loans.
As for future programs to support small businesses as the pandemic continues, Carranza said the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate and President Donald Trump are “engaged” in finding an appropriate next round that may support other sectors such as health care and education. She expects the next round to look similar to the previous one passed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act in March 2020.
“It’s really looking at continued retention of employees and assisting small businesses with their operating costs that have become so dynamic recently, not only because of natural disasters, which is taken care of under [the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program],” Carranza said. “Also the civil unrest has caused some businesses to either close their doors or have property losses, and I believe the next round will look at all of those current conditions.”
Austin Jones, president of Materials Management, gave the tour to Carranza and her entourage from the SBA. The family-owned company — which manufactures and imports sewing materials — has been around for more than 40 years, starting with Jones’ grandfather.
“My main concern is keeping us here so that when this is done, we still have 50 families who come to work every day who can pay their bills,” said Jones, describing how the PPP and debt relief plans from the SBA has helped his business. “So that was, while painful at the beginning, a process that we needed and allowed us to come through [the pandemic] where we needed to be.”