As small businesses scramble to keep their livelihood afloat and figure out assistance options, Ohio’s new Office of Small Business Relief is meant to guide them in the right direction.
“This is a very uncertain time for a lot of folks,” said Director Lydia Mihalik. “And people are hurting. And they're struggling to figure out how to navigate this new world that has been thrust upon us.”
Mihalik, also director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, joined the podcast this week to talk more about the newly created office and how accountants can help. The office’s role will be to support Ohio’s nearly 950,000 small businesses through determining government assistance for a business, identify existing programs to support them during this health crisis, and positioning for them success in the future, among other responsibilities.
One of the most impactful things accountants can do to support the office is let their clients know about its existence, Mihalik said.
“A great government resource like this isn't any good if nobody knows about it,” she said. “Help us get the word out to your clients about programs as different things are announced and communicated. Accountants can also help businesses apply to the new programs that continually come out not only from the federal side, and we could potentially see some state programs here very soon on the manufacturing side.”
Mihalik said businesses need to listen to what the experts are saying in the coming months about safety guidelines, and to be prepared “not to do business as usual.” That might mean policies about wearing face masks or implementing social distancing in the office.
Many businesses have already pivoted during this crisis and are doing what they can to help those in the medical field. Mihalik said some Ohio manufacturers have started producing personal protective equipment, such as a quilt shop owner who now makes face masks and several distilleries that are making hand sanitizer.
Despite the current economic downturn, there are opportunities available for small businesses, Mihalik said. But it’s crucial to keep the lines of communication open with customers, business advisors and fellow business owners.
“Success is about the highest number of small and medium sized businesses getting back to work and in full operation as soon as they're able to do so,” she said. “And my hope is that the Office of Small Business Relief can be a partner in that success.”
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