TAMPA, Fla. — As we continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida's small business owners say they're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccination rates climbing each day, experts said more families are choosing to venture out and spend money on services.
Jordan Levine refused to let the pandemic stop her from opening her salon, Tipped in Tampa.
"I always dreamed of doing nails," Levine said. "It was always my passion."
However, the process was far from easy. Last March, Levine had hoped to be open by May but pandemic shutdowns left her without essentials and nail technicians.
"The warehouses closed down and nobody's supplying anything," Levine said. "How do we get stuff?"
But today, she's just days away from an official grand opening.
Experts said what really turned the corner was the passage of most recent CARES Act, which infused money into the economy and supported small businesses like Tipped in Tampa.
"That's been able to tide some folks over," said Kathryn Petralia, president of Kabbage, an American Express Company. "Also the consumer relief itself, because it's put money in people's pockets that they can use at their local businesses."
Kabbage is an online financial technology company that provides funding directly to small businesses.
They recently surveyed more than 500 small businesses across the United States.
The results show 57 percent of the surveyed small businesses say their businesses are fully open as local or federal shutdowns ease and that the shift to online sales has reset revenue expectations across small businesses.
When asked to forecast their revenue growth expectations next month versus last, the average response across all respondents was an increase of 21 percent. The largest small businesses were most bullish, projecting a 46 percent growth in revenue, followed by medium-sized small businesses (40 percent) and then the smallest companies (13 percent).
Kabbage found that has a lot to do with Paycheck Protection Program loans. This is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. Borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness.
SBA is currently offering PPP loans until May 31, 2021. President Biden announced program changes to make access to PPP loans more equitable.
"The idea is that has this compounding effect," Petralia said. "So not only can the company stay in business, but also folks can stay employed."
Levine didn't take out any PPP loans, but said the infusion of stimulus money, along with increasing vaccination rates, is offering a hopeful outlook to her and other small businesses across Florida.
"It's really nice to see more people coming in, not afraid to journey out," Levine said.