Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities. The small coffee shops in our neighborhoods have become a part of our daily routine. The local restaurants keep us fed after long days in front of our computer screens. The local bars were once our weekly happy hour hangouts. Our favorite barbershops and salons housed all our secrets, the best conversations, and our sad split ends. These places are what make our communities unique.
No one knew that when shutdowns began in March what devastating effects it would have. The coronavirus became a pandemic but it also created an economic crisis. In May, Facebook and Small Business Roundtable published the State of Small Business Report. Its findings are from surveys of more 86,000 owners, managers and workers in companies across the US with fewer than 500 employees. The report is startling. Nearly a third of these businesses have shut down and more than half of the businesses that have shuddered were operated by women.
The impact of these numbers go beyond business owners to employees. At the height of the pandemic and widespread lockdowns that forced non-essential businesses to close, the unemployment rate rose to 14 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of October 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, nearly double the previous year. The rates of unemployment in the European Union are also grim. According to a new report from Eurostat, unemployment in the EU is currently at 8.4%.
Asmir Hadzibeganovic, owner of Kapitel 21, a bar in our Moabit neighborhood in Berlin feared another lockdown in Germany — then it hit in November. “It’s a really hard time. Everyone is trying to survive,” he says. “Every time I open Facebook another bar has closed. If you walk down Friedrichstraße (a hot spot for tourists) you can see the big bars are closing. Club culture is dying. All the spirit businesses and makers cannot sell their stuff at the moment because everything is closed.”
For businesses that have survived thus far, we couldn’t let another surge knock them out for good. That’s why we’ve created the Quarters Neighborhood Fund. We are investing a total of $100,000 in small businesses in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Berlin, and The Hague.
The goal is three-fold:
- First, we want our residents to understand the impact of shopping local and supporting the businesses that are walking distance from our homes. If these businesses close, it means they will have to travel farther for goods and services.
- Second, we want to increase foot traffic in businesses, with respect to social distancing, of course. We want to incentivize our members to support these businesses but we also want our members to help spread the word.
- Third, we want to offer assistance to businesses who need it now. Our local partners receive an upfront check from us to offer special perks, services, or discounts to our members. This helps businesses keep their doors open.
As the year comes to an end, we don’t want more businesses we love come to an end also. Small businesses are the cultural hubs that bring strangers together. Iconic businesses bring tourism and tax dollars to the neighborhood. Walkable communities with thriving shops are desired by young people and growing families alike. We understand the economic fallout from the pandemic cuts deeper into businesses the longer it plays out. Though temporary shutdowns are imminent for some non-essential businesses, they are less life-threatening than permanent closures. Help us support as many small businesses as we can.
Learn more about the Quarters Neighborhood Fund at global.quarters.com/our-neighbors and nominate a small businesses in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Berlin, and The Hague.