Help on the way soon for small businesses

SHENANDOAH, Texas (KTRK) -- In these days of a viral pandemic, everyone's medical health is at the top of the agenda, but financial health is also a concern given the virus' impact on the economy.

And there are things the federal government is looking at doing to help. That help is much need it at places like Martinis and Manicures in Shenandoah, where business is slow.

"We just went from solid back-to-back, couldn't find parking in the morning to a ghost town," said manager Keri Stokes.

She told ABC13 the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has clipped, not only the number of clients, but the income of those who work there.

"These girls are like anybody else in the service industry," she said. "Wait staff, bartenders. If they're not working, they don't get paid. "

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With Harris County restaurants closing to dine-in customers Tuesday morning, restaurant owners are faced with difficult decisions on how to survive without their usual customers.

It's not just the nail salon. In Conroe, across the street from the downtown courthouse, Brownlee Jewelers has been in business for 88 years. Foot traffic in their downtown showroom is virtually nonexistent.

"It has affected our downtown," said owner Janice Parish. "I've talked to several of our neighbors around downtown. It's just like everybody else. We're just going to wait and see how this turns out."

Representative Kevin Brady, who represents Texas' 8th Congressional District and is on the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, is fully aware that small businesses are caught in the middle of the pandemic.

People are doing what they're told: They're staying home. That means no customers.

"It's important we act smartly and quickly," said Rep. Brady. "They literally have no money coming in, they want to keep their workers there. I think it's a combination of making sure workers can get unemployment benefits through their state even while they're essentially working at that business, we want to keep them attached to that business. And we think there are some smart ways to provide capital to that small business to allow them to survive. "

Brady believes congress will have to act to help struggling airlines as well as the cruise industry.

They'll need to find a way to ease the burden on workers, maybe finding a way to supplement diminished income and get cash to keep small businesses afloat.

"We need to find a way so businesses can keep as much cash on hand as they have," he said. "There is no question we're going to find some money to find a cure and invest some money, so it's not an extended economic downturn. We're going to have to invest something."

To that end, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced late Tuesday he wants to infuse the economy with a trillion dollar stimulus, helping business, both big and small, and workers. He's also deferred tax payments 90 days. It'll take congressional approval, which Brady believes can happen fast.

It likely needs to for businesses like Martinis and Manicures and the people who work there.

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