If you are a struggling business owner in Stephenville, read this.
By SARA VANDEN BERGE
The Stephenville Economic Development Authority has put together a plan to help struggling businesses weather the financial storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past few weeks, our office has had the unique opportunity to visit with businesses of all shapes and sizes,” said Jeff Sandford, executive director of SEDA. “We have listened to their struggles and their vision for how we can safely and efficiently work towards a new start economically.’
Sandford and his board of directors came up with the plan called Restoring Stephenville: Assist, Relieve and Transform.
Phase I of the ReSTART program contains three proactive points to help relieve some of the burden placed on local businesses.
1. ADDRESS SUPPLY NEEDS
To help employees and customers fight the spread while still remaining open, SEDA has acquired and already begun delivering several gallons of sanitizer/disinfectant.
“This no charge effort will help businesses clean high-touch areas as well as employee and customer hands, helping to reduce the spread of the virus,” Sandford said.
Thermometers will also be delivered at no charge to businesses.
The city council has allocated $20,000 for additional supplies should they be needed.
2. HELP WITH AVAILABLE RESOURCES
SEDA will provide guidance and connectivity between businesses and available grants, loans and other programs in which they might qualify.
As part of this effort, SEDA will utilize social media, including webinars, podcasts, radio and other platforms to educate businesses about (EIDL), the (PPP), as well as other very specific opportunities targeted at industry-specific sectors.
“We will also collaborate with vital area partners such as the Small Business Development Center, the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce and the city to disseminate new information as it becomes available,” Sandford said.
“We will continue collaborating with state and federal agencies, as well as legislative staff on a daily basis to create a pipeline of additional support for up-to-the-minute information and assistance.”
3. ROBUST MARKETING ASSISTANCE
Last year, SEDA began to look at business development and recruitment by employing technology to advance the growth trajectory of the economy.
Buxton has developed a platform designed to help businesses locate and market directly to citizens which have shown a propensity to purchase their products or services.
The platform, employed by the largest retailers in America, not only identifies those customers, but helps create and deliver targeted marketing through social media and other pathways.
Typically, there is a license fee for this type of information, but SEDA has worked with Buxton to waive the license fees, saving nearly $500 per business.
Additionally, SEDA has allocated $50,000, available in $500 stipends, to help with marketing expense if used specifically through this program.
That’s a $1,000 value available to every business in Stephenville.
“The ingenuity and resolute courage of the Stephenville business community will be a model for the entire state of Texas,” Sandford said. “Together we WILL ReSTART this economy.”