Many local businesses have been open for days, but some tell us the path forward is still unclear as fewer people are working and fewer customers are in stores.
NBC 6 Investigators conducted a small survey and asked 65 businesses in Miami-Dade and Broward about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than half told us they already started furloughing employees, implementing pay cuts or layoffs. Only three said their businesses have hired new employees during the crisis.
Sarah Davidoff started Fare to Remember Creative Catering 20 years ago. In March, the company had 19 full-time workers and more than 60 part-time workers. She now has eight full-time employees.
“Even though I’m a mother, this is my first child. I’ve worked hard for 20 years to build it to what it is,” Davidoff said. “The idea that it could close because of something that we had no control over is somewhat overwhelming because it’s my identity.”
Davidoff is one of many business owners who told us the strings attached to the low-interest loans from the federal government have gotten in the way. She was approved for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) but she cannot use most of it for rent, utilities, or other company costs.
“I’m grateful for it but it’s an unrealistic loan,” Davidoff said. “So essentially what they want us to do is hire back everybody and pay them when there’s no work for them and this is in order for the loan to be forgiven.”
Davidoff doesn’t know if her business will make it through because she doesn’t know how soon people will be able to get together in large groups for weddings, bar mitzvahs or galas. She said all the events her company had booked through August have been canceled.
“I feel devastated for all the brides that have been planning weddings,” Davidoff said.
Davidoff is not the only one concerned about the future.
Out of the 65 businesses we asked whether they’ll recover from the pandemic, more than half picked the choice “I don’t know.” Even more said they don’t believe Florida’s economy will recover by the end of the year.
“My business depends on tourism and there is absolutely nothing,” a survey participant wrote.
Alonso Gomez, who runs companies that do cleaning and janitorial services, is optimistic about the future but doesn’t know how many buildings will be open and need his companies' services.
“I don’t know if we have seven months or six and a half months, it’s going to be enough for us to recover,” Gomez said.
More than half of those surveyed said they have taken on debt to keep their businesses afloat. The majority said they don’t believe there are enough federal and state resources to help small businesses.
“Since we were open less than a year, we haven’t qualified to apply to many private grants,” said Eileen Carrion, the owner of Indigo Republic Boutique in Pinecrest, adding she received $1,000 in federal help, but that doesn’t even cover her rent.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't go very far," Carrion said, referring to the loan.
While most of the business owners we interviewed support reopening, some have concerns.
“I have mixed feelings,” Alonso said. “You’re always nervous about the people. You don’t want COVID-19 to continue to spread. I also understand that people need to get back to work.”
Davidoff, who has been providing meals for hospital workers, said she doesn’t believe all businesses are ready to reopen.
“If society as a whole was willing to follow the rules and do everything that needs to be done, I think we might be ready,” Davidoff said, adding, “There are a lot of people who don't think this is as concerning as it is.”
NBC 6 would like to thank the following organizations that helped us to distribute the survey: Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.