How to Improve the Next PPP

The first round of government support for small businesses was a lifeline for many but there’s room for improvement.

Today’s highlights: The best places for women to start businesses. The tech exodus from Silicon Valley isn’t quite what you think. The market for commercial space is turning volatile. 

FINANCE

Ami Kassar, founder of loan broker Multifunding, has suggestions for the next round of PPP loans: “Target aid to actual small businesses in the hardest-hit industries. Focus on the local restaurants, gyms, and hotels with less than $1 million in revenue and fewer than 500 employees. A lot of these smaller businesses did not have the same resources or knowledge base to obtain PPP funds before the money ran out. These businesses also require a lot less money to stay afloat. For them, a loan of even $10,000 could mean the difference between closing their doors and staying open.”

  • “Verifying the necessity of the loan needs to be done only once in the beginning.”

  • “We need clear guidelines for loan forgiveness, taxability, and deductibility of the loan.”

  • “Require the banks to make these loans to businesses that aren't necessarily their customers.” READ MORE

SILICON VALLEY

The tech exodus from California to Texas isn’t really an exodus: “Silicon Valley's powerhouses aren't putting out the ‘moving sale’ signs, even as a handful of high-profile departures raises questions about the region's status. Driving the news: Oracle's Friday announcement that it's shifting its headquarters to Austin, Texas follows a previous move by Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Houston. Reality check: These companies aren't shutting down their California offices. They've changed their legal addresses in part to flee the state's taxes and regulations.”

  • “Oracle is a venerable database powerhouse, but it has never vaulted into the front rank of tech industry giants.

  • “HPE is a shard of the once-mighty Hewlett Packard focused on corporate hardware and services.”

  • “You won't find anyone on Sand Hill Road who believes these firms' departures say anything about Silicon Valley's capacity to keep innovating.” READ MORE

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

The market for office space is becoming more volatile: “The rise of co-working and other forms of flexible, short-term office space is starting to change that dynamic. These spaces make up a growing share of the office market in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Because co-working leases typically last only a few months to a year, vacancies are starting to soar when many companies are working remotely. That trend could make the office market more volatile, heightening booms and busts, with powerful implications for investors.”

  • “Banks are typically less eager to finance properties with fluctuating income, investors say, leading to higher mortgage costs.”

  • “‘They don’t want to take any market risk,’ said Jim Costello, senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics. Higher mortgage rates and lower loan amounts, in turn, tend to lead to lower property valuations.” READ MORE

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FOOD & BEVERAGE

City restaurants are making deliveries to the suburbs: “The pandemic has brought limitations on in-person dining, and many suburban diners have found themselves too far from city restaurants to stop in for pickup or get delivery via popular apps like Seamless. So urban restaurateurs are coming up with creative ways to get their food into the hands of people who live outside the city, even if it means setting up camp in a suburban parking lot. Many have invested in refrigerated trucks, organized pickup times for orders, and developed complex reheating instructions for food that travels up to an hour before being eaten.”

  • “Exclusive restaurants such as New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Chicago’s Alinea now offer multiple suburban pickup locations via the reservations platform Tock, with diners paying around $50 to $120 per person.”

  • “Suburban pickups have sold out quickly and ‘generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue,’ says Tock’s chief marketing officer Bryan Ferschinger.” READ MORE

The ‘21’ Club, arguably New York’s most famous restaurant, has closed indefinitely: “It is sadly apt that the ‘21’ club, an institution that was born of Prohibition, should pass away now, exactly 100 years after Prohibition began. That era in American history wiped away dozens, if not hundreds, of dining and drinking icons that couldn’t survive when deprived of the right to sell alcohol. It robbed the city of thousands of hospitality jobs and erased untold decades of service know-how, a position in which the city once again finds itself. New York will rebuild, of course. But make no mistake: There is no replacing the ‘21’ club as it used to be. The place it occupied in the New York dining landscape cannot be filled. It is the last remnant of Swing Street, the raucous stretch of 52nd Street that was once lined with jazz clubs and various other nightlife spots.”

  • “In recent years, ‘21’ seemed to survive in spite of itself. It has been owned since 1995 by Orient-Express Hotels, Ltd. (now Belmond, Ltd.), a Bermuda-based hospitality conglomerate.”

  • “It ripped out the beautiful original bar and replaced it with a shorter replica in order to squeeze in a few more tables.” READ MORE

MARKETING

The U.S. population has grown about 8 percent over the past decade to more than 332 million people: “The figures published Tuesday are separate from those gathered by the 2020 census that wrapped up in October. They are a parallel estimate of the population’s demographic contours using records of U.S. births, deaths, immigration and Medicare enrollment that is designed to act as a quality check on the actual census results. That estimate showed there were about 332.6 million people in the U.S. on census day, April 1, according to the midpoint figure from the bureau’s demographic analysis.”

  • “The median age in the country was 38.5 years as of that day, up from 37.2 in 2010. In 2010, the comparable population total was 308.35 million.”

  • “If confirmed by the 2020 census, it would mark the slowest growth since the 1930s, when the Great Depression and restrictions on immigration slowed growth to 7.2 percent.” READ MORE

SUSTAINABILITY

Solar power capacity will jump 43 percent this year in the U.S.: “Renewable energy groups had feared that the pandemic would devastate business, but the reality was far different. As the cost of solar panels continues to fall and as concerns about climate change grow, more utilities and homeowners are deciding to go solar, often because they can save a lot of money over the life of the systems compared to paying for energy from fossil fuels. In many areas, solar panels now provide electricity at a lower cost than new coal or natural gas power plants, and in some areas they can provide power for less than existing fossil fuel plants.”

  • “The pandemic may have helped the industry: As spending on entertainment and travel fell, people had more money to consider investing in rooftop solar systems, which when paired with batteries can also serve as backup power during wildfires and storms.” READ MORE

STARTUPS

Business Insider has named 46 climate-tech startups to watch in 2021: “VCs have poured almost $16 billion into the sector already this year, according to clean-tech data PitchBook shared with Business Insider. That's up from an average of about $5.6 billion per year between 2008 and 2016. And 6 cents of every VC dollar spent last year went towards climate tech, a recent PwC report shows.” READ MORE

SmartAsset has named the 10 best cities for women to start businesses: “SmartAsset ranked the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington metro area in Minnesota as the best place for women entrepreneurs due to its relatively low unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, which is below the national average 6.7 percent, and its early start-up success rate of 80.44 percent. Also, nearly 20 percent of businesses in the area are owned by women and nearly 3 percent of its businesses with 500 or more employees are owned by women.”

  • “The Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim metro area in California also ranked high on the list coming in second place.

  • “Though the area had a high unemployment rate of 13.6 percent in September, its large population presents a nearly 21 percent share of women-owned businesses, with early start-ups in the state having an 81.33 percent survival rate.” READ MORE

CANNABIS

The Senate elections in Georgia could have an impact on the $17 billion cannabis industry: “Just a month ago the industry got a boost when five states passed ballot measures approving cannabis use. Arizona and New Jersey joined deep-red Montana and South Dakota in allowing the sale of recreational pot; Mississippi approved it for medical use. Altogether, 15 states—making up more than one-third of the U.S. population—now have legal recreational weed, and 35 allow it for medical purposes. At the federal level, it’s a different story. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans don’t favor legalization.”

  • “But if Georgia elects two Democrats, that would flip Senate control, making possible the end (or at least a significant de-escalation) of the almost 50-year war on cannabis.” READ MORE

THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Santa and Mrs. Claus have tested positive: “A Georgia couple who dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus for an outdoor photo session that was attended by about 50 children last week learned that they had tested positive for the coronavirus three days after the event, the county’s top elected official said on Tuesday. The event was on Thursday and was part of an annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony in Ludowici, Ga., about 235 miles southeast of Atlanta, said Robert D. Parker, the chairman of the Long County board of commissioners.”

  • “The couple wore masks during the event at a local pavilion, Mr. Parker said, but many of the children who posed for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus did not have face coverings, including Mr. Parker’s two children.” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 43: All It Takes Is One Mistake: This week, in our final podcast of the year, Paul Downs, Jay Goltz, and William Vanderbloemen discussed the impact this year has had on their businesses and on themselves. William talked about the positive side of having to get back to a startup mentality: “It's definitely been a silver lining in the middle of a very dark cloud.” Paul talked about hoping he can offer his employees a good place to work for as long as possible: “I can give them probably another 10 years. And then beyond that, I don't know what will happen.” And Jay talked about the mistake he made that could have been fatal: “If I wouldn't have gotten the PPP money, I don't know…”

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