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Phoenix Estimates 20-25% Of Small Businesses Will Not Survive COVID-19

Phoenix’s Economic Development Department presented a sobering projection to the City Council Tuesday: 20 to 25% of the city’s small businesses will not survive the COVID 19 crisis. 

Over the last five weeks, Christine Mackay said her staff in the economic development department has interacted with nearly 6,000 small businesses. The city labels businesses with less than 30 employees as "ultra small." Mackay said two-thirds of ultra small businesses are not expected to receive federal financial help from the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance.

“Those companies represent 1.1. million in vulnerable jobs over the next three months and that’s 36% of all the jobs we have here in Arizona,” she said.

Mackay said most small businesses have enough money to cover one month of operating expenses. Applications for a $2 million grant program offered through the city and the Phoenix IDA are currently being reviewed and Phoenix is working on a low interest loan program for businesses with no more than five employees

The city’s resource page offers connections and information for small businesses and the Economic Development Department established a business hotline to answer questions and offer support. For example, Mackay said they helped coordinate a drive through job fair for a company hiring hundreds of security officers and supported Honeywell’s efforts to start manufacturing personal protective gear.

“They’re two weeks ahead of schedule and really credited our Phoenix Planning and Development Department and our city of Phoenix for being able to get done what needed to get done very quickly with their facility and they are starting into production now,” she said.

Over the next several weeks and months as the city and small business work toward recovery Mackay said Phoenix will need to: strengthen small business assistance, support existing and create new workforce programs, leverage sector partnerships, provide marketing outreach for small businesses, ensure new development and construction continues, and continue business outreach.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.