The fate of Frisco’s small business community as a result of coronavirus will become clearer in the next few weeks, city chamber officials say.

“It’s not going to be easy for anybody, and everybody is going to be impacted,” Frisco Chamber of Commerce President Tony Felker said. “It’s only a question of when and how badly.”

Local businesses are altering hours of operation, shifting business models and closing—some permanently—as Frisco navigates coronavirus’ impact on the state and nation.

“This is uncharted territory,” said Justin Crossie, regional administrator for US Small Business Administration. “We’ve never faced something of this magnitude before.”

What is known

On March 12, the chamber released a survey for businesses to share how coronavirus has affected them. Felker said it still is too early to gauge the impact on small businesses, but the chamber is working to stay connected to its business partners to identify needs.

“We know already that there are some in the community that have had to close down, and they’re looking for alternative employment for some of their people part-time or otherwise,” Felker said.

Since then, Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order beginning March 20 that prohibits eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout. The order also closes gyms, bans people from visiting nursing homes except for critical care, temporarily closes schools and limits social gatherings to no more than 10 people.

"The Frisco Chamber of Commerce supports the Governor’s Executive Order," Felker said in statement to Community Impact Newspaper. "The safety of the people and the need to stop this virus is the number one concern. We also realize the tremendous impact this will have on local businesses all over, and we urge Frisco and everyone else to safely and responsibly do all we can to support the businesses affected."

Some of the hardest hit industries in Frisco due to coronavirus include hospitality, restaurants and entertainment, Felker said. Large businesses will likely have the resources to last long-term, he said, but small businesses are going to need more assistance.

“I’d love to be able to tell you that all will be able to make it through, but being realistic, that’s not going to be the case,” Felker said.

For small businesses that survive, it could take months until they recover, he said. While Felker said Frisco’s business community is strong, coronavirus intensifies day-to-day issues in business.

“We all know that there are pressure points for any business, between rental rates, workforce, and those issues are just being magnified with this new crisis,” Felker said.

Crossie, who is SBA’s regional administrator over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico, said the agency has resources to help small businesses in this time of need.

On March 17, SBA released updated criteria for small businesses impacted by coronavirus to request disaster assistance loans. States can now qualify for assistance by certifying at least five small businesses within the state have suffered substantial economic loss.

The new criteria will expedite assistance to small businesses, Crossie said, as states will be able to qualify faster than before.

“The one thing that I would encourage small businesses to do is to get in front of this,” Crossie said. “Before they find themselves in that hardship, get this process started.”

What now?

While Crossie said it is “next to impossible” to predict the future for small businesses, community involvement can make a difference.

Communities can keep business afloat by ordering to-go or delivery service, he said. Buying gift cards—even if they cannot be used for a while—is also a step in the right direction.

“That’s money that’s going to help them stabilize and make it to the next day,” Crossie said.

Felker said businesses and the community can turn to the chamber’s online resource page for more information on how to provide and get assistance.

“In the interest of good business, we appreciate people wanting to allow business to operate as best they can,” Felker said. “But we also understand there’s a community-wide approach that needs to be taken into perspective.”

It could be months until Frisco is on the other side of coronavirus, Felker said, and it will alter the city’s business community for the future.

“Going through a crisis like this will force everybody to look at how they do business and to be able to do things differently,” Felker said. “There will be things that affect how we do business long term and will be positive in the long run."