A Charlottesville-area businessman has begun a private campaign to save small businesses struggling to survive while a statewide stay-at-home order keeps the economy shut down through the beginning of June.
Pete Snyder, a capital entrepreneur who has started and run several small businesses, opened “The Virginia 30 Day Fund” this week. It offers $3,000 forgivable loans to businesses in an effort to keep them alive throughout the economic crisis spurred by the Wuhan coronavirus pandmic. Qualifying small businesses can apply for the loans here.
“People are hurting and they need help,” Snyder told The Federalist. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep businesses afloat in Virginia.”
Snyder said the idea came as he and his wife watched the devastation unfold in the economy. They learned many small businesses would be unable to wait the three- to four-week “Death Valley” period for government assistance to arrive. Small businesses need help now.
While the government is doing all it can, Snyder said, “The private sector needs to step up as well.”
According to a new survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with MetLife, nearly a quarter of the nation’s small businesses reported being less than two months away from closing their doors for good if lockdowns are not lifted. Ten percent said they were less than one month from permanent closure.
Snyder and his wife kicked off the fund with a $100,000 contribution to help 30 small businesses and opened up a portal for additional online donations. Click here to contribute.
“It’s not like they ran their businesses into the ground over bad business practices,” he noted. This devastation is completely not of their own making.
On March 23, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam had ordered all businesses deemed “non-essential” closed to slow the spread of the rapidly growing Wuhan coronavirus making its way across the state and country. On March 30, Northam implemented a “stay at home” order in effect until June 10.
When asked whether he believed the economy would be opening back up in mid-June, Snyder said it remains impossible to say.
“You can’t be an entrepreneur without being an optimist, but you have to plan for the worst,” Snyder said.
Snyder emphasized that while these are forgivable loans, businesses have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by repaying the loans to help another at-risk business. Snyder expects that while 90 to 95 percent of companies that take the loans will be unable to pay them back, some probably will.
“People don’t want charity,” Snyder said. “They want a hand, but if they make it through the death valley, I think we’re going to have a lot of people who are going to be paying it forward.”
Snyder said the fund would be supporting businesses in each region of Virginia “so we actually have an economy when we pull out of this.”
The Charlottesville businessman also said he would be helping business communities in other states open similar funds to keep small companies alive once the crisis subsides.