Business survey: 685 Mission employees laid off or furloughed during pandemic

Preliminary results of an ongoing survey to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses is showing that they need support now more than ever.

That’s according to Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Enriquez who shared results of a business impact survey with the Progress Times.

Mission’s Downtown area.

The survey is a joint effort with the Mission Economic Development Corporation and was derived from the Mission Business Economic Recovery Committee.

The survey, which Enriquez urged Mission business owners to complete at ourmissionforward.com, has so far collected responses from 258 Mission businesses.

“We wanted to have a better picture of the impact this has caused our city,” Enriquez said. 

According to the results, 11 percent of Mission businesses have closed due to the pandemic. 48 percent of the businesses surveyed reported having to layoff or furlough at least two-thirds of their employees, or roughly 685 people.

“We don’t know if these businesses closed temporarily or permanently but were closed at one point,” Enriquez said. “We don’t know if those businesses have been able to reopen and hire back those employees.  This survey was created and sent out in May and we’re in June, a lot of things have happened since.”

90 percent of the businesses reported a loss of revenue from the pandemic, Enriquez added.

“Based on this data, our businesses have been impacted by the pandemic be it directly or indirectly,” Enriquez said. “Our businesses rely on their customers and if they are not working or going out and supporting our businesses, it all goes hand in hand.”

Since the survey is still collecting responses, the Chamber is documenting businesses that are closing as the pandemic is continuously changing the situation.

She noted the closure of Diaz Diner-which was recently featured on the Progress Times’ Striving to Serve series, as an example of the changing landscape.

The diner was open for business during the pandemic but closed last week and posted signage on their door alerting customers that the eatery was temporarily closed after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The OAK Nutrition also posted they were closing temporarily after a client had indirect contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.

“These are businesses who could’ve submitted their surveys earlier and reported that they were still open but are now closed,” Enriquez said. “This is uncharted water we are going through right now.  A week ago we didn’t have a lot of patients in our hospitals and now it’s crazy. We can only ask people to wear a mask and do what’s right, hopefully everyone will help.”

The help will come in the form of $1.5 million through the CARES Act Small Business Grant that the city of Mission will be receiving to support local businesses.

Enriquez said the grant applications will be finalized by Friday and sent out to businesses who complete their surveys and will receive grants of either $1,000, $3,500 or $7,500 depending on their need.

The Chamber will also be assisting businesses owners in completing their applications through curbside service located outside their office at 202 W Tom Landry St.

“We really care about our small businesses, we don’t want them to feel alone,” Enriquez said. “Do businesses need us more than ever? Yes. We want them to be resilient, successful and come back. They are the heart of the city and they’re our priority right now.”

On Tuesday, Hidalgo County Commissioners Court approved $3.5 million in CARES Act funding to go towards the creation of the Hidalgo County CARES Small Business Grant Program designed to assist businesses in unincorporated areas whose business faced an interruption caused by the required closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will provide over 1,000 small business grants for the program, at a maximum amount of $5,000 that will be disbursed to businesses with an annual net income of $100,000 or less, according to a county news release.  

Eligible businesses must be in the unincorporated area of Hidalgo County and demonstrate that they have experienced a loss of income of at least 15 percent due to COVID-19 since March 2020.  

Completed applications for grant funding will be considered on a first come, first serve basis and the County will announce when it is ready to accept applications.

Another city doing a similar program is Alton who announced last week the creation of the Coronavirus Relief Fund grant assistance program through the City of Alton Economic Development Corporation.

The program will support small businesses and residents that have been impacted by COVID-19 in Alton with grants of up to $5,000. Grants of up to $2,000 will also be available to qualified households to pay for mortgage or rental expenses during the crisis period, according to city Manager Jeff Underwood.

Applicants must submit a Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant Assistance Program or Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program application, found in the city’s website at alton-tx.gov.

 Grants will be approved based on factors as need, location, how affected by the COVID-19, planning, eligibility and the availability of funds.

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