Published on September 14, 2020
Small Businesses, a Big Part of the Community
Being able to help our members and members of the community alike is what we’re here for; it’s what’s most rewarding to us.
So, when the Federal Government introduced Payroll Protection Program Loans to assist small business owners navigate the economic uncertainty of the last few months, we were eager to assist and extended our helping hand to guide business owners through the intricate application process. Receiving one of these loans meant business owners could meet payroll obligations and keep their lights on as they waited for customers to return.
As of mid-August, Community Choice helped file 872 PPP loan applications for a total of $44,472,920 in relief.
During the next phase of the program, which is now underway, we will continue helping business owners file paperwork for PPP loan forgiveness.
It’s important to remember the crucial role small businesses play in their local economies. Without them, there’s no local hardware store, corner bakery, or favorite family-owned restaurant. These are the types of businesses that make a city feel like a cherished hometown.
Here’s a brief look at a few of the businesses we helped since mid-March. Think of them, or the small business in your community, when you head out to shop or dine.
In part one of this two-part series, we’ll look at how and why business owners turned to Community Choice, and how they felt the process went. It was certainly an emotional journey. Our business owners found out firsthand that our commitment to communities, members, and non-members is real. It is not a slogan.
Monica Jackson, owner of Jackson Staging & Design, LLC.
Located in Birmingham, Monica is the sole owner of her construction and renovation business that remodels and transforms everything from single rooms to an entire business. Check out her work on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jacksonstaging/.
Monica will celebrate 5 years in business this October. It is a proud accomplishment. If this were any other year, the celebration would likely be much greater.
As the lone, full-time employee and owner of her business, she wasn’t so much worried about herself when businesses were forced to shut down. But she admitted that she was “scared” for her contract employees, the trades people she hires to carry out her plans and projects.
“All these people I work with, they are the main bread-winners for their families,” she said. “I had to find a way to keep their income flowing. Everyone was scared. Every time I looked at them, I just knew I had to find a way to help them.”
After feeling “let down” by how unprepared the big banks were to help her with the PPP loan process, she was relieved when she called Community Choice.
“The bank I called didn’t even have a email prepared to send me, “ she said. “Community Choice was so prepared. Whenever I would send an email, I had a response immediately, within an hour. That’s amazing. I never felt like a number. I was a person who needed help, and they were there for me. I truly felt cared for.”
Matt Buskard, owner of Bobcat Bonnies.
These family-friendly restaurants are famous for lively Happy Hours, brunch, and seasonally changing specialties with locations in Corktown, Ferndale, Wyandotte, Ypsilanti and at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township. Check out the Ferndale restaurant’s Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/bobcatbonniesferndale/
In February, long before anyone imagined what the following months would bring, Matt Buskard made a decision; he wanted to ditch his big bank and look for a financial institution where he could receive some personalized service.
“We asked some of our employees for suggestions, and a few of our managers mentioned Community Choice. We went over to the Royal Oak Member Center and were so impressed,” he said. “Everyone I met was professional, eager to help, and really knew their business.”
As a member already, Matt knew exactly where to go when restaurants were told to close, or partially close, and his vendors and employees needed to be paid.
“Community Choice helped me navigate through some tricky situations,” he said. “There was a lot going on. Everyone could see what was happening and what was coming, and they all wanted to get paid early. And I understood that. I had 300 employees, vendors, electric bills, and so on, and everyone wanted their money. Community Choice helped me so much with that situation. I’m not ashamed to admit that my bank account was scary low. I needed help.”
Most of all, Matt said he appreciated how ready Community Choice was assist him in every way.
“They were so prepared,” he said. “They answered all my questions. I can’t thank them enough.”
Nicol Pasuit, CEO of TechStak.
Based in Ann Arbor, TechStak helps small businesses find essential IT, cybersecurity, and other tech solutions that are the right fit for their needs. For more on TechStak, visit https://www.techstak.com/
Like most small business owners, Nicol went from having a flourishing business to suddenly having “a million questions” last March.
“How do I keep my business open?” “How do I keep my staff in place?” “What are my next steps?”
She decided to “focus on the present.”
And her first thought was finding a way to pay her employees.
“My employees are the best. They are so talented. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing any of them,” she said. “When this all happened, I knew there would be loans or grants available, but I didn’t know where to find them or what to do next.”
She admitted that there were some very difficult days that followed, until she called Community Choice. Already a member since 2016, she said she was “thrilled” when she saw that her credit union was a participating PPP Small Business Association lender.
“Community Choice called me back right away; they talked me through the process. They practically held my hand, and I needed that. No one has ever faced anything like this before; these were uncharted waters. To have the reassurance from my credit union, and to know that someone cared about me really helped.”
Nicol said the loan was approved and processed quickly, and she’s happy to report that there were no layoffs on her staff, although there were some adjusted hours that resulted in “free Fridays,” where everyone enjoyed three-day weekends.
“I’m so proud of what we accomplished over the past few months,” she said. “We made a plan, we all stuck with it, and now we’re learning how to survive in a new world. I can’t thank Community Choice enough for being there for me and helping me survive.”
Please be sure to return to Community Connections for part two of this series next week. Our small business owners will talk about how the PPP was used and their hopes for the future.
If you are a small business owner, you can find helpful resources and links to managing your business now and in the future by visiting CommunityChoice.com, where you find a full array of business checking, savings, and loans, along with a variety of tools and services.