“Small businesses are having to pivot and we are seeing that. We are having businesses that had one business model that had to change,” said Adriana Cruz, executive director for economic development and tourism in the Office of the Texas Governor.
Other panelists were Commissioner Aaron Demerson, the commissioner representing employers at the Texas Workforce Commission, and Justin Crossie, regional administrator for the South Central region of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Crossie and Cruz encouraged small business owners to go to their local SBA or small business development centers at this time. Those centers may be able to help with finding working capital for their business’s recovery and other resources, which may include helping the public see that a business center is meeting new standards or expanding the business’s footprint, Crossie said.
“Reach out to small business development centers in your community,” Crossie said. “We have a large footprint across the state, and we have resources for businesses no matter the size.”
Demerson also warned that employees who refuse to come back to work must have a good reason. Reasons include being a high-risk worker; being age 65 or older; having a high-risk family member in their household; contracting COVID-19 or having a member of their household contract COVID-19; having been recently exposed to COVID-19 and quarantining due to exposure; or not being able to find child care due to day cares being closed.
“Generally, employees who refuse suitable offers with work without good reason are disqualified from benefits,” Demerson said.
Demerson provided insight for the self-employed and for small business owners that are having trouble bringing back their employees. Those who are self-employed are able to apply for unemployment assistance, Demerson said. Though they may not qualify for standard unemployment, those who are self-employed do qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
“[The] bottom line is that if you fall into that category of self-employed, we want to make sure you apply,” Demerson said.
The point of the state and federal resources is to help Texans navigate the future in a post-coronavirus world, Cruz said.
“Today, Texans are battling a colossal challenge, one that is affecting our lives and our livelihoods,” Cruz said. “Our mission is to positively impact economic prosperity for Texas residents.”