Q&A – South Florida Small Businesses Hit By COVID-19

Today’s entry: Hi Brian, you are fond of saying “Elections have consequences.” Some politicians, school committee members, etc. have been fabricating Covid responses without scientific basis. Are there any statistics available which might indicate which local businesses are in trouble due to such politicians for whom they themselves voted?

Bottom Line: It’s a good question and one that seemed especially appropriate coming out of Labor Day weekend. It is true that I frequently say elections have consequences, which certainly is the case. My full saying is purposeful for illustrating a point which segues with your question. Elections have consequences, however it’s often those closest to you which have the greatest impact on your daily life. The reason for that saying is due to the clear disproportionate engagement by Floridians to local elections.

In Florida, we average 75% turnout for Presidential elections but only 12% for local only elections. Even the August primaries, which included local elections for all South Floridians, only led to 28% turnout in the midst of a Presidential Election cycle. This takes me to the crux of your question. The odds are most business owners vote in Presidential elections, but most don’t the rest of the time. The local officials which have literally decided what businesses are “essential” and which ones aren’t in their subjective view of the world during the pandemic are most commonly the ones they ended up with due to a lack of local engagement. 

I don’t say this to impugn local business owners, which are the bedrock of our local economies, just as a teachable moment. This is true for all South Floridians. The impact is just that much more direct when it’s literally your business which is ordered to shutdown or operate at limited capacity by people who generally have never run a business. 

The info I’m getting ready to share is a combination of recent research from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, FIU’s economic department, government reporting and Yelp’s research department. We’ve lost an average of 201 small businesses per day nationally since the onset of the pandemic, and an average of 13 daily in Florida. Only 25% of small businesses haven’t had a decline in revenue of at least 25% since April with local retailers have been hardest hit followed by restaurants. Furthermore, 62% of South Florida Small Businesses received PPP money, only 4% who applied were rejected and 21% of South Florida businesses who received that money will have to close within six months without improvement from the current levels.

Hopefully that provides additional context for what’s happening daily in our communities. For example, take the local officials who wanted to wait for certain decisions until after Labor Day weekend. That’s easy to say when it’s not their business being forced to shutdown due to their arbitrary decision. While local officials were enjoying their weekends replete with their taxpayer funded salaries, we likely lost another 39 small businesses. Everyday should carry with it a sense of urgency and responsibility to our communities. We need to do our part to prioritize patronizing our local businesses. At the same time, we all need to do a better job engaging local elections, including small business owners.

Submit your questions using one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Photo by: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images

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