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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Small Business Development Center Increases Staff To Handle Assistance Requests

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Hamilton County Small Business Development Center is seeing so many clients it had to bring on four new business counselors, doubling its counseling staff.

Director Wanda Walker-Smith says many businesses are seeking help applying for pandemic-related assistance like PPP loans. "When the second round came around, some of them were very hesitant to try and apply because they were like 'I've been denied once, I don't need to have that in my face again.' "

The center helps with business plans, marketing, financial projections, staffing issues, and cash flow and other issues.

Walker-Smith says some people are looking to pivot their businesses during the pandemic or, "adjust to 'Where do I go? Do I go from being a retail site to making my product available online?' So, there are consultants that help with that process."

They've been fielding many calls from small business owners who are worried about paying their bills while shut down by coronavirus-related closures.

"The requests for help have been tremendous," she notes, adding it's also why the additional staffing is needed. The four counselors started at the beginning of June. "(They) can take that time to address the one-on-one needs of those people who are (at the point where they're saying) 'I just don't know what to do.' "

Meanwhile, the pandemic isn't squashing the entrepreneurial spirit. Walker-Smith says they're still seeing clients interested in starting or growing their businesses.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.