Monday, April27, 2020
8:00 a.m.
COVID-19 Monday Morning Brief
Brought to you by
The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

  U.S. Texas Bexar County
Total Cases 895,766 24,631 1,231
Total Deaths 50,439 648 43

It’s now 35 daysinto the Mayor’s Work Safe Order.It is set to expire on April 30th with no mention of extension. The timing of this coincides with a dozen county mayors urging Governor Greg Abbot to return local control, Abbott saying Texas will reopen “massive” amounts of businesses soonand Congress passing a new Covid-19 relief package totaling $484 billion.

The Good

Though the initial $346 billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans ran out in two weeks, this new bill includes the $310 billion for the PPP.  What may help this go-round is that $60 billion is set aside for community banks and other small lenders.  This is a substantial change in the program and legislative victory for the small business and micro-lending communities.

Also, numerous states and municipalities are in the planning stages to reopen businesses and jump start the economy in the coming weeks with Georgia opening as early as this past Friday.  The prevailing conventional wisdom seems to be that premature opening of private businesseswould risk further outbreaks and set us back, rather than propel us forward.  For a complete status on where all 50 states stand on reopening, check out:

The Bad

With headlines like, “Round 2 of PPP is here, and you’ll have 48 hours” and “Local bank CEO’s PPP advice: If you haven’t applied for SBA loan yet, forget about Round 2” in the Phoenix and Philadelphia Business Journals means not only is the funding likely to be insufficient, but another issue is the speed of funding.  Pennsylvania’s Univest Financial Corp. CEO Jeff Schweitzer didn’t mince words when he said, “I just hope for their sake that there is a Round 3.”  Even as states and municipalities wrap up recovery plans and gear up for reopening, we are not in the clear is what Schweitzer is saying.

The Ugly

Bexar County has seen approximately 1015 cases and 39 deaths, and the fallout has severally impacted our local economy. This drop has created a $100.9 million hole in the City of San Antonio’s budget. Similarly, the county estimates a $70-100 million hit to its general fund or worse.  More than 71,000 people filed for unemployment from March 15 to April 11 making Bexar County the fourth-highest total number of jobless claims among Texas counties.

The Case for More

“There is discussion in Congress about a round 3 of (PPP) funding,”already according to U.S. SBA Regional Administrator Robert Scott and with good reason too.

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) estimates that as many as 95% of Black-owned businesses and 91% of both Latino-owned and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander-owned businesses stood no chance of securing a program loan andwere financially shortchanged.This has led to four class action lawsuits against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargochallenging the banks’ use of PPP funds.

Even in San Antonio, city council approved a $25 million fund to help residents with rent, food and medicineUnder the guidelines, a local family earning $72,000 a year or below can receive $150for one individual and $50 for each additional person with a cap of $300.  The program would also assist up to $3,500 in rent or mortgage payments and up to $1,500 for utilities based on annual income.

Pointing out the glaring need for more however, Linda Davila, housing co-chair for COPS/Metro Alliance, said her community organizing group’s data suggests that 30,000 San Antoniansare on the brink of disasternow and the total need is closer to $70 million.

NOTE:  Interestingly, the city’s announcement coincided with construction news about the Hardberger/Tobin Land bridge, a $23 million project to give you a comparison.  Perhaps more relevant today because of COVID-19 than when published, you can read my “Land Bridge Widens Income Gap” take in the Express News here:

The Analysis

What doesthis information tell us about small business and the crisis?  According to a Forbes article examining various survey data, the main takeaway to this is that small businesses are getting pummeled, they’re doing everything possible to survive, they expect pain through the end of 2020, and the most important revelation – usage of government support has been uneven.

Because of this, Howard University professor Natalie Hopkinson and Brookings Institution fellow Andre Perry penned an op-ed calling for a “racial equity framework” to fairly distribute financial support that would reach African Americans who need financial support for their businesses.“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that we have a moral imperative to distribute resources based on racial equity,” the article concludes. “When the most vulnerable communities are healthy, then all communities are better off.”If this “equity framework” sounds familiar, it should.City Council experimented with the last budget cycle using an “equity lens” to help close the gap in San Antonio even before COVID-19.

From the national level to the local level, what we are hearing is that cash on hand is running out or has run out and half of small businesses won’t make it past Memorial Day according to National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).  Unless we do way better and provide much more, expect numerous Hispanic small business failures within the next 30 days for San Antonio because not only is more government assistance needed, but way more equitable government assistance is needed at the local level.  This is exactly why the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber fought for a $50 billion to be set aside for Hispanic businesses and launched the Save Latino Businesses Campaign.  See Attachment.

As America’s smaller towns and cities face a fiscal calamity, and whose mom and pop businesses are also likely to miss out this next round of PPP assistance, they have no option but to regain control of their economies.Similarly, the situation is not any differentfor the Hispanic and Black owned businesses in San Antonio and across the countryand looking even more dire.

That is why a dozen Texas County Mayors wrote Governor Greg Abbot to return local control amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a collective of regional authorities, they are closer to their situation and have more knowledge on their area economy and need to reopen businesses than the elected officials in Austin is their point and it’s the next debate in Congress.

It’s a financial disaster for cities and local governments must now save themselves.


The COVID-19 Monday Morning Brief is a product of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and brought to you by Leonard B. Rodriguez, former White House Adviser to the President of the United States during 9-11 and Political Director for the Governor of New York, to keep you briefed on critical business-related focus areas during this pandemic.

An entrepreneur and Hispanic Business Magazine 100 Influential alum; he is also the award-winning author of Celebrating Outstanding Hispanics – 500 Years of Latino Pride and a 10th generation San Antonian.  He currently serves as the Senior Vice President at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the Office of Small Business Programs and Services and served his prior position as the President and CEO of the City of San Antonio Westside Development Corporation.  


He can be reached at