March 18, 2020 558 PM
PRESIDIO COUNTY — The new coronavirus has not arrived in Presidio County, but its presence in Texas is already rattling the local economy. Many businesses have chosen to close their doors in hopes of preventing viral spread. Now, owners and employees are left wondering how long the closures will last, where they can get assistance and when, or if, they’ll be able to reopen their doors.
Though the timeline in Presidio County is a mystery, local officials are already working to share emergency assistance resources with local businesses.
The Workforce Solutions Borderplex, which operates in the tri-county area, has released videos with up-to-date information for employers and employees: https://youtu.be/g6pNutriBos
Tips for employers forced to lay off staff, options for laid-off workers and information about getting help from the WSB are all discussed.
“We recognize that many businesses are closing indefinitely and so many people are facing the fact that they are simply out of work. Our job center doors will remain open and we are eager to assist the workforce and any individuals who are worried about loss of wages,” said Leila Melendez, CEO of WSB. “Our staff provides effective job search support and we can help navigate unemployment benefits.”
County Health Authority John Paul Schwartz urged business owners during a Wednesday morning meeting to allow employees to miss work if they are ill to avoid spreading the illness. He added, “If you can pay them while they’re off work, great. It would help the quarantine situation that needs to happen. People are going to have to get creative.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance, but none of the tri-counties are currently eligible to apply. The SBA provides loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. According to their website, the interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%. Their webpage lists all counties currently eligible, and business owners are encouraged to monitor the page for changes. https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19
Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara and Judge Eleazar Cano in Brewster County have declared local disasters this week, which helps open up more access to funding. “For small businesses there are SBA loans, and we’re ready to assist with that,” Guevara told business owners on Wednesday.