COPING WITH COVID: CommunityWorks.

Coping with COVID

SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.

Contact Ross Norton, rnorton@scbiznews.com, with any questions or ideas.

Five years ago,SeamonWhitesidewent fully virtual, allowing its 120 employees to more easily work from home and collaborate acros

When Spartanburg's Venus Beauty Supply went dark three weeks ago, Cynthia Watson was forced to shutter the brow and lash salon she operated inside.

Watson recognizes the risks of operating a salon in a county with 50 proven COVID-19 cases, but being a single mother supporting several children at home, she also fears accruing long-term debt to keep Facez by Cynthia viable.

Following Gov. Henry McMaster's closure of salons across the state, on March 31, Watson gave herself one last day to dye customers' lashes and eyebrows at a friend's salon before boxing up her threads and hunkering down with her family for the next few weeks.

"I had so many customers looking for me, I thought I would just have a pop-up shop today. They only see me once a month anyway, so I just thought I could take care of them and they'll be okay for a month," Watson said.

Watson sees this time as her window for drawing up a battle strategy to preserve the business she debuted at Venus in February 2019.

"My biggest question is for someone like me who basically is the main employee, even though I do have other employees and their families pretty much depend on what is made from Facez: What will benefit me so that I am not having to once we get started back up go even harder to try to make this money back?" she said.

Right now, she plans to touch base with lenders, such as non-profit CommunityWorks that extended the capital she used to launch her business, to see if the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan or the Payroll Protection Program could serve as a lifeline for her livelihood.

"But still, a loan is a loan. At the end of the day, you still have to pay it back," she said.

Tammie Hoy-Hawkins, CEO and president of CommunityWorks, knows small and micro-business borrowers, especially close-contact service providers like salons, will be some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 shutdown, so she said her team is poised to offer guidance on the financing options petering from federal sources.

"We here have been working on loan modification for our existing...

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