Published on September 23, 2020
In part one of our two-part blog, we asked a few of our members who own a local business about their initial reactions when their businesses were shut down due to COVID, and the reasons they turned to Community Choice Credit Union for help. In part two, they will share their plans for the future, as well has how their PPP loan was used. For part one of the blog, click here.
Moving Forward, Thankful to Those who Helped Along the Way
The Federal Government made Paycheck Protection Program Loans available to business owners so they could continue paying their employees, pay their rent, and keep their lights on after their businesses were forced to close.
While the acronym PPP has become part of the new commonplace lingo brought on by the pandemic, we feel it is important to share personal examples of the important role these loans played in helping neighbors in our community triumph in turbulent times. Small business owners faced the challenge of keeping themselves, their families, and their livelihood safe while also helping their employees do the same.
Here’s more from Nicol Pasuit, Matt Buskard, and Monica Jackson, three small business owners determined to survive in an ever-changing business world.
At TechStak, the goal is preparing for the future
Nicol Pasuit, CEO of TechStak, an Ann Arbor-based business that specializes in helping businesses find essential IT, cybersecurity, and other tech solutions, said she’s excited about the future.
She admits that while there is still a reason to be cautious, she believes her company used its down time to prepare for the future, and now it’s time to “ramp things up.”
“Things are starting to get back to normal,” she said. “During the shutdown, we stopped selling, but we never stopped marketing. We did our best to stay in the forefront of our clients’ minds. We offered free webinars, free educational information, free cybersecurity tips, and other free services just to help our clients and remind them that we’re here for them.”
“We focused, we watched what was happening, and we stayed flexible. We wanted to be ready to come out of the shutdown strong,” she said.
She said added that she’s proud of the way her team kept moving forward and even developed a new revenue stream (a new service) to bring back to the market.
“It was hard. It was sink or swim; we decided to swim. There was no giving up.”
As for the PPP loan, she said that went directly to her employees.
“Every dime was spent keeping them in place,” she said. “They’re so talented. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing a single person.”
Bobcat Bonnies’ goal is to remain valued members of their communities
Matt Buskard, owner of Bobcat Bonnies restaurants, said his PPP loan went to keeping as many of his employees on the payroll as possible and meeting other financial obligations.
“We had 300 employees in our five restaurants,” he said. “When this is all over, I plan to have all 300 of them back working, and the business and my employees thriving.”
During the shutdown, he said he used the time to “upgrade his outdoor facilities and make changes inside so that diners could maintain social distancing.
Matt stressed that he hopes when things are back to normal that residents remember the role that small businesses play in helping communities prosper.
“When you eat at a local restaurant, one that isn’t part of a big chain, the money you spend goes right back into your neighborhood.”
“We sponsor local organizations, like Little League teams and festivals, and that money comes from our profits. We’re not in this to get rich. We want to be valued members of our communities and good neighbors,” he said. “We hope everyone remembers that when this is all over. Not just my business − all small businesses. We love being a part of your communities.”
Monica Jackson plans to keep moving forward
As the owner of Jackson Staging & Design, LLC, Monica Jackson gets inspired at the thought of taking something old and outdated and making it shiny and new.
She’ll use that same mentality as she plans the future of her business.
“Before the pandemic, we were planning to expand the business so we can do more work Up North. And we’re going to move forward with those plans,” she said, adding that she hopes to get her hands on some old cottages and turn them into functioning, beautiful getaways to be proud of.
“There’s a great need for a quality company that actually keeps its word, and that is what I was starting to do just before everything hit. This is my goal for the next phase of my company.”
Monica said the funds from the PPP loan went to salaries for her employees, whom she said, “rely heavily on the projects that I procure.”
She had hoped there would be some left over to help with rent, but that didn’t happen.
She is now in the process of applying for PPP loan forgiveness through Community Choice.
“I can’t thank Community Choice enough,” she said. “No one has ever gone through anything like this. Community Choice took such good care of me. I can’t thank them enough.”
Are you a business owner with a unique story to tell? We’d like to hear about it. Is your business bouncing back? Have you made major changes to accommodate new guidelines? We’d like to hear that too. You can email Susan Shanley at firstname.lastname@example.org.