Gov. Greg Abbott Meets With Small Business Owners at Dallas Farmers Market

The roundtable—which took place Friday during National Small Business Week—was part of a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices "Road to Recovery” tour. The biggest challenges conveyed to Gov. Abbott: difficulty in hiring workers; rising costs; and dealing with the Delta variant.

Governor Greg Abbott visited Dallas Farmers Market Friday and got an earful from 12 small business owners about the challenges they face, from the tight labor market to rising costs to the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Gov. Abbott met with the small business owners at a table outside American Butchers, in a roundtable session sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices. All 12 business owners were graduates of the program. 

“Small business owners across Texas are working hard to come out of the pandemic strong, but there are still many challenges on the road to recovery as we continue to face rising operating costs, hiring challenges, and ongoing concerns over the Delta variant,” said Desiree Wineland of American Butchers, in a statement.

Workforce challenges

Continued difficulty in hiring workers was a key theme of the session, and it’s backed up by a recent survey from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices: 73 percent of small business owners are currently hiring full-time or part-time employees, but 87 percent of them are finding it difficult to recruit qualified candidates for open positions. And 80 percent say that difficulty with hiring is impacting their bottom line.

The Farmers Market roundtable [Photo: by Misty for Goldman Sachs]

Capital pressures

The Goldman Sachs survey also found many small businesses could struggle if they’re forced to prepare for another downturn. Around 44 percent of small business owners have less than 3 months cash reserves. That number is even higher for Black-owned businesses, at 51 percent. Only 31 percent of the business reported being “very confident” they could get access to capital funding if they needed it—and only 20 percent of Black-owned small businesses report that level of confidence. 

Inflation concerns

The survey showed that 86 percent of small business owners expressed inflation concerns, with 84 percent seeing an increase in operating costs. And 81 percent said inflationary pressures have risen since June. 

Gov. Abbott: “hard work and perseverance”

“The spirit of Texas—hard work and perseverance—shines through our small businesses, and their success is crucial to Texas’ strong economic resurgence,” said Governor Abbott, who thanked the Goldman Sachs program for the support it has provided to over 1,000 Texas small businesses.

“This past session, in partnership with the Texas Legislature, we took action to help small businesses recover from the pandemic, and I look forward to continuing to work with small business leaders to ensure their ongoing success in communities across the Lone Star State,” the governor added.

But that desire for success has obstacles, and the governor heard about them.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Hyacinth Belcher, who runs the live events firm Onstage Systems, had to lay off 80 percent of her staff overnight during the pandemic. The company lost 70 percent of its revenue during 18 months of the crisis. “We lost millions,” the DMN quoted her as saying. “A lot of people left the industry.”

But now that business is coming back, Onstage Systems—which survived the pandemic on savings, two forgivable loans and one low-interest SBA loan—is having a hard time hiring more workers. “Between 45 percent and 50 percent of the Texas workforce works for small businesses so if we fail, the state economy fails,” the DMN quoted Belcher as saying.

She urged Gov. Abbott to help business owners provide child care for employees to encourage them to return to work.

“Ensuring their voices are heard”

“Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices is committed to supporting our community of Texas small business owners, and ensuring their voices are heard as they advocate for policies that will help small businesses continue to recover and grow,” said Amy Betzen, the organization’s South regional director, in the statement. “Our economic recovery is dependent on the strength of small businesses and their ability to navigate the ongoing challenges they face.  We’re grateful for Governor Abbott’s commitment to small businesses and appreciate his taking the time to hear directly from this group of Texas job creators.”

Goldman Sachs has funded $62.2 million in loans to Texas businesses

Back at the height of the lockdowns in April 2020, Governor Abbott participated in a joint press conference with Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund to announce a commitment by Goldman Sachs to provide $50 million in loans to Texas businesses impacted by the pandemic.  

As of July 31, 2021, the firm—through partnerships with LiftFund and other Texas community development financial institutions—has funded a total of $62.2 million in loans throughout the state. 

Goldman Sachs internship program

On Friday, Dallas Innovates wrote about Goldman Sachs launching its 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows Program in Dallas and three other pilot markets. In a partnership with Dallas College, the program has two big goals: creating career pathways for students from community colleges and addressing the skills gap small businesses are currently facing, by facilitating hands-on internships.

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