How a Small Business Turned When It Didn’t Get a PPP Loan

When the pandemic began, Sherard Duvall realized that his South Carolina production company, OTR media group, would have a hard time producing short films and full-length documentaries.

“We have associate producers, cinematographers, sound engineers, lighting technicians and fingering technicians,” said Duvall. “It’s very difficult to do that in a distant manner.”

His company has other areas of work. It helps develop film education curriculum and helps consumer-focused businesses market product launches in the southeastern United States. But when the pandemic broke out, all of this work fell off a cliff.

Duvall tried to keep his business alive. He applied for a paycheck protection program loan in March, however how many minority entrepreneurs, he hit dead ends again and again.

When I spoke to him in June, Duvall said he had submitted seven unsuccessful applications.

“I sweated bullets in June,” he said.

Duvall reached out to nonprofit groups for advice and answers he kept panning.

“They always said, ‘Pivot, Pivot, Pivot’,” said Duvall. “To be honest, it pissed me off at some point.”

Duvall said at the time that he had no idea what the company should be headed for.

“When you talk about someone like us, a service-based company with a particular model, especially media-based, you’re already doing all the things that you’re good at,” said Duvall.

But then the light bulb went out. Duvall realized that the pandemic had created a demand for video work that the company hadn’t: building and installing live streaming equipment.

“We panned in the end,” he said. “And that pivot really saved us.”

OTR Media landed gigs with a church and a synagogue. It started helping teachers set up home studios and producing videos for universities that could be used in online lectures.

“It saved our business,” said Duvall. “There is no doubt about that. You know, I was joking with my accountant and I thought it hadn’t been, I really don’t know what I would do. “

Duvall’s business had already started to improve when he finally got a PPP loan in July. He said he spent it within days to pay staff and settle long overdue utility bills. That gave him the freedom to focus more on promoting the company and setting up a website.

The company is more resilient now, but it has not been an easy journey to get there.

“If you’re not sure how to pay someone and you’re three months behind, I don’t see that as a good thing at all,” said Duvall.

Although Washington has approved more money from the paycheck protection program, Duvall said he likely won’t apply. He doesn’t feel like going through this process again.

Why are consumer prices rising?

Some shoppers may have noticed that their grocery bills are higher lately. Prices for energy and used cars and trucks are also up. Jayson Lusk, director of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University, said several factors have pushed food prices higher, including China, which has been buying more American products recently, more motorists and pandemic-related supply chain and workforce challenges. Wages have also risen, though productivity grew faster as wages for decades. “I assume that inflation will likely continue for at least the next six months,” said Lusk.

Read more about inflation here.

What does the CDC’s latest Mask Policy mean for businesses and their employees?

By now you’ve heard the news about this guide: Vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face mask in most indoor environments. However, local governments and corporations are allowed to request them. Mask mandates were even tricky dangerousso that publicly accessible businesses can navigate. Retail workers across the country were there harassed and physically assaulted in the enforcement of mask requirements. “The updated manual has created an impossible situation for retailers, ”said Lisa LaBruno, Senior Executive Vice President of Retail Operations & Innovation, Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Expectations are now ambiguous, both from members of the retail team and from customers.”

Why do you have to be unemployed for more than six months before you can be classified as “long-term unemployed”?

After all, people start doing that Stress and financial hardship of long-term unemployment before they hit the 27 week mark. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.2 million Americans are long-term unemployed. Patrick Carey, Deputy Commissioner for Labor and Unemployment at Statistics, has a statement. “The outbreak of 27 weeks or more fits well with the maximum duration for which many states offer regular unemployment insurance benefits,” Carey said.

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