Featured Article

Business Resource Center Offers Guidance During Pandemic

More than 30 million small businesses nationwide have been impacted by the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, according to the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The pandemic has created a nationwide economic disaster in which every small business can apply for disaster loans, either directly through the SBA or a bank.

An SBA resource partner, the UT Tyler-Longview Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers phone or web consultations for those entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking assistance in applying for loans to keep their businesses operational through this crisis. The center generally provides, at no cost, business advising and consulting services to clients in Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Rusk and Upshur counties.

“We are proud to assist our clients with loan applications if they need help pulling together the information required during this difficult time,” said Day Shelmire, center director. “Even in normal times, banks often refer their clients to us if they need help with the sometimes arduous task of applying for SBA or conventional loans.”

A Valuable Resource

The United States CARES Act will generate a $367 billion disaster assistance loan program, facilitated by the SBA. The resource centers are not typically involved in SBA emergency loans. However, due to the size and scope of this crisis, centers are actively helping their small business clients apply for these and other types of SBA loans, Shelmire said.

“Normally disasters are localized, and the SBA opens temporary field center offices to help at the local level,” he said. “Since the pandemic is an unprecedented event, the SBA is relying on its resource partners such as the SBDC network to help get the word out to small business owners about SBA loan resources.”

The SBDC network consists of over 900 centers nationally with more than 60 in Texas alone.  Since last May, the UT Tyler-Longview SBDC has helped start 12 business, created 75 jobs, provided nearly 1,400 counseling hours to area businesses and generated nearly $8.4 million in owner equity and bank loans.

Returning the Favor

Jodac Office Outfitters of Longview furnished the center’s new offices located in Longview’s Austin Bank building. Now, the center is helping new owners Charles and Timberly Hall grow their company by providing ongoing business advice.

“We are extremely grateful for the Soules College of Business and SBDC,” said Timberly Hall. “I feel like we are at a great advantage having them in our corner. Day and his entire staff have been easy to contact and communicate with, and they have always shared very powerful information to help us to advance in business.”

So what advice does the center offer to small business owners during this time?

The staff recommends keeping financial records current in case a business owner needs to apply for additional bank loans or lines of credit, according to Shelmire.

Center staff is also advising loan seekers to reach out to their bankers, landlords and suppliers to discuss potential cash-flow issues and how the pandemic might affect leases or inventory, Shelmire noted.

“Business owners should also document the business impact of the downturn. We also advise against laying off vital employees because it may be more expensive to rehire and retrain them in the future,” Shelmire said.

Services Offered

SBDC business advisers can help small business owners in these areas:

  • Financial projections and feasibility studies
  • Business plan development
  • Competitive analysis and marketing strategies
  • SBA and conventional loan package development
  • Advertising and social media campaigns
  • Analyzing and restructuring current debt
  • Business expansion, restructuring and turnaround strategies
  • Market, demographic and industry research
  • Business legal structures
  • Buying or selling a business
  • Government procurement and contracting

For assistance, call the UT Tyler-Longview Small Business Development Center at 903.757.5857 to make an appointment.