ANNA - Gov. Greg Abbott’s May 18 announcement that Texas was entering Phase 2 of economic reopening means that every business in Anna will now be able to resume operations in some capacity by the beginning of June.
That’s welcome news to local businesses owners who have had to navigate a rocky road for past two months.
“The general consensus that we’ve received is that our businesses are doing the best they can to keep cleaning and keep social distancing inside their stores,” Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kevin Hall said. “What they need is help from consumers and clients to make sure that, if they are comfortable, they please use the business.”
Over the course of the spring, COVID-19 has negatively impacted nearly every business in the city.
A recent Chamber of Commerce survey concluded that nearly 60 percent of local businesses either closed or reduced their hours in response to the pandemic.
However, less that 20 percent were forced to reduce the number of full-time or part-time employees.
According to Hall, part of the reason that Anna fared better than other cities is the fact that much of the city’s economic base fell into the “essential” category during the height of state restrictions.
This was much different from an area like downtown McKinney, where a large percentage of retail outlets fell into the “non-essential” category and had to shut down entirely for more than a month.
“We are lucky in that we don’t have a lot of non-essential business now, but also not lucky because non-essential is what a lot of people spend their expendable income on,” Hall said. “It’s kind of a catch-22.”
While the city may have fared better than others, it doesn’t not mean that local businesses came through unscathed.
Nearly all surveyed reported significant income losses over the course of the pandemic. That amount averaged in the $15,000- $20,000 range, though some reported income loss upward of $400,000.
More than half of Anna businesses surveyed say that they have either filed ,or plan to file, for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The program is designed to help small business owners in times of crisis. It has struggled to keep pace with applications in this time of unprecedented demand.
Two-thirds of Anna business have also applied for, or plan to apply for, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These small loans are designed to incentivize small businesses to keep workers on the payroll.
The program has faced numerous challenges as well, though it resumed accepting applications at the end of April.
In the meantime, local business owners are working hard to make customers comfortable in the new normal. Many are providing hand sanitizer, and some are even offering masks and gloves.
Of course, some customers are asked to stay away.
People experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms or who have been directly exposed to the virus are advised to ask someone else to do their shopping or run their errands.
The economy will only rebound when people feel safe to participate in it again.
“It’s not just on business owners, it’s on us as consumers as well,” Hall said. “We all need to watch out for each other.”