Businesses in minority communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are weary of the prospects for a quick recovery, even with the help of the Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Carver Bancorp. (CARV), the largest African-American operated bank in the country, has originated about $20 million PPP loans to businesses in its New York City metro footprint, with another $23 million in the pipeline.
Carver CEO Michael Pugh told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday that small business entrepreneurs are prioritizing survival as the NYC area remains under a shelter-in-place order. But re-growing business even after the economy re-opens will be difficult.
“Small businesses will continue to have a challenge on the other side of this pandemic,” Pugh said.
Congress has launched two rounds of PPP loans totaling more than $600 billion. Through Small Business Administration lenders like Carver, the PPP allows companies to access a loan that would be forgiven in its entirety if 75% of the loan is used to keep employees on payroll.
Carver, with about $569 million in total assets, says its PPP loans have been critical in keeping businesses alive in industries ranging from food service to non-profits.
Pugh said that while the PPP loans offer “one important avenue” to help businesses, keeping their doors open in the long-run may require further capital relief.
“There’s going to be a lot more work needed,” Pugh said.
Trouble Accessing Credit
Black communities are not only at greater risk of suffering from the health implications of the virus, but are also more ill-prepared to sustain the financial shock from it.
A New York Fed survey conducted before the coronavirus’s spread in the U.S. shows that African-American businesses reported more difficulty accessing credit and making payments on debts than the average American business.
Like other businesses across the country, African-American businesses have resorted to laying off workers. The April jobs report had the black unemployment rate rising from 6.7% in March to 16.7% in April.
Pugh says Carver is working with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to help businesses understand their options, such as a PPP loan, through the COVID-19 crisis. But in the long-term, Pugh says businesses will have to adapt to a post-coronavirus world in order to stay in business.
“The consumers, our communities, will be thinking about how we do business as a whole very differently,” Pugh said.