The interdisciplinary team launched a triage hotline to help local small businesses understand information related to the CARES Act.
The Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, in partnership with Texas Tech University's Northwest Texas Small Business Development Center, the Texas Tech Innovation Hub at Research Park and the City of Lubbock, launched the Hub City Small Business Triage Hotline on Thursday (April 2). The hotline aids local small businesses by addressing questions related to the various disaster-relief programs introduced by the Federal Government in response to COVID-19.
Specifically, the hotline will offer guidance regarding the newly passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which can provide qualifying businesses capital to cover the cost of retaining employees through the Paycheck Protection Program and assistance in keeping up with payments on a current or potential Small Business Administration loan through the Small Business Debt Relief Program.
"It is incredibly important for small businesses to have the preparation needed to take advantage of the programs being offered by the government as soon as possible," said Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope. "The triage hotline will prepare our businesses and arm them with answers and a bit of West Texas kindness, so they know they are not alone."
The idea for the hotline originally was conceptualized by Michael (Mike) Ryan, a Rawls College associate professor of practice and executive director of both the Institute for Leadership Research and the Center for Entrepreneurship & Family Business.
"During these critical times, we must be conscious that many small businesses are dependent on a steady cash flow," Ryan said. "Through my studies in entrepreneurship, I know that the single biggest reason for business failures is not a lack of assets, but rather a lack of cash."
With this in mind, Ryan recommended the creation of the hotline and was able to garner support from others in the Texas Tech community who believed the program would be beneficial. In less than a week, the team was able to launch the public hotline.
"Our approach with this hotline is to try to inform those small businesses in a timely manner of what they might be able to do right now," said Ryan. "We will try to connect them to the resources that are being made available and provide ongoing support in the effort."
Rawls College faculty experts and select students will provide support by answering questions via phone calls and emails to the hotline. Information regarding economic disaster loans will be shared, and experts will be available to provide personal recommendations based on each business's eligibility and needs.
"I appreciate the students, staff and faculty who have jumped in to assist with this collaboration," said Rawls College Dean Margaret L. Williams. "We all feel the need to share our expertise to help the local business community, and students do not often have the opportunity to learn on the front lines as they will here."
The hotline serves small businesses in 16 counties: Bailey, Cochran, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Hockley, King, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Motley, Terry and Yoakum.
Small business owners can access the hotline by calling the toll-free number, (800) 992-7232.