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About Julija A.

Julia A. is a writer at SmallBizGenius.net. With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.

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The Paycheck Protection Program, aimed at helping small businesses affected by the pandemic, ran out of funding May 4 - four weeks before its scheduled end. It is currently not accepting new applications as the $292 billion allocated for the last round of loans is soon to be depleted.Some money remains for lenders to finish processing pending applications. Around $8 billion is set aside and still available for community financial institutions that lend to businesses run by women, minorities, and other underprivileged communities. For this fund, applications are still ongoing, and it will continue to accept applications until funds run out.This new development came as a surprise to many lenders. They estimated that it would run out before the deadline; still, the exact moment coming so soon was unexpected.“It is our understanding that lenders are now getting a message through the portal that loans cannot be originated,” the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders alerted its members. “The PPP general fund is closed to new applications.”The latest government data states that the PPP program disbursed $780 billion in forgivable loans to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic so far. In the early days of the pandemic, the number of active business owners plummeted by 22% over two months, from February to April 2020. Among these, African-American businesses suffered the biggest hit, experiencing a 41% drop.The struggle was apparent in the number of applications for small business loans. Companies that offer loans for those with bad credit were especially popular, as well as alternative financing methods, such as crowdfunding.However, it was precisely the Small Business Administration’s loans that helped many businesses stay afloat in challenging times. This is the reason the program was renewed in December’s relief bill. The new program accepted applications from applicants struggling to find funds elsewhere, such as minority or veteran-owned businesses.The interest in these loans was considerable, so the application deadline was pushed forward to May. Unfortunately, the deadline push was not followed by a significant increase in available funds. It seems that the government is counting on pandemic restrictions easing as the vaccination rate grows and deems additional funding unnecessary for many small businesses.Luckily for the business industries hit the hardest by the pandemic - restaurants and live events - help is still underway, as the government’s recent efforts suggest. The SBA program is offering $28.6 billion in grants to food-oriented businesses, and the application process began on May 1. The first three weeks will be focused on approving applications from enterprises owned by priority groups, and the SBA promises to respond to individuals applying for a grant within 14 days.Patrick Kelley from the SBA’s Capital Access office said in a webinar last week that the amount of money Congress set aside for this purpose is likely not going to be enough when the demands coming from this industry are considered.A similar request came in from another sector - entertainment. This industry - music club operators, theater owners, and others in the live-event business - was also heavily hit by the pandemic. A program named the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, started on May 2 and will disburse $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues. Approximately 15,000 people applied since the opening of the fund.

By Julija A. May 11,2021

Tesla’s $3 purchase of patent applications from Canadian battery startup Springpower International will help push Tesla’s car closer to a price of $25,000. Tesla purchased these patent applications just two days before Battery Day, during which it announced that the company is actively working on reducing the expense of creating lithium-ion batteries. Elon Musk and senior vice-president of engineering Drew Baglino explained the details around the new technology for producing batteries. If successful, the adoption of this technology could drive Tesla’s electric vehicle price closer to the $25,000 price range, effectively turning Tesla cars into an affordable and much more sustainable option. Since the purchase of the patent applications, several Springpower researchers have updated their LinkedIn profiles to say that they are now working at Tesla. Since Tesla has been recruiting promising battery-focused startups for some time now, this could indicate that Springpower became yet another such acquisition. In 2015, Tesla signed a five-year exclusive partnership with a leading battery researcher Jeff Dahn and renewed the contract for another five years this January. The company purchased another Canadian battery company, Hibar, in 2019. This years-long endeavor is all about bringing battery production in-house to eliminate the reliance on current battery suppliers, such as Panasonic. Still, Musk warned not to expect results too soon, as it will take Tesla anywhere from a year to 18 months to turn these advantages into reality. This announcement pushed a deadline Musk set in August 2018, when he estimated that the company would reach the desired price point in three years. Still, Tesla seems to be battling on one-too-many fronts, and that it should, just like any other company, adopt a better task management system on a much larger scale. Namely, as Tesla pushes on the battery front, it struggles to open its gigafactory in Europe, located near Berlin. The gigafactory is meant to be the European version of its gigafactory in Texas. However, as even the Texas one still hunts for workers, with job posts regularly published on job posting sites, it might be a while before Musk cuts Berlin factory’s red tape. It is yet to be seen whether Tesla can meet the new deadline for its vehicles becoming affordable and what role the Springpower team will play in accomplishing it.

By Julija A. May 11,2021

Finance Watch, an initiative for improving the impact of the financial world on society, urged the European Commission to strictly regulate banks and insurers dealing with climate-related endeavors. The group is lobbying for a 150% risk weight for investments in companies whose activities damage the environment. The so-called “climate-finance doom-loop” implies that “the longer the EU waits, the higher the chances that it will face a financial crisis induced by the climate crisis.” The proposed solution would force banks to hold as much as three times the amount they usually would to cover the risks involved with the fossil-fuel business, such as financing new refineries or mines. The EU is in an unenviable position at the moment: It’s already in the process of reviewing its policies for lenders and insurers, but also needs their support for the pandemic recovery effort. Banks provided loans and lines of credit to small businesses across Europe, and they will have an even more vital role after the pandemic - the reallocation of resources. However, the growth in eCommerce and virtual communication services made for excellent investment opportunities for banks, which will, in all likelihood, continue to be profitable after the pandemic. This skyrocketing of profits created room to raise the risk assessments and allocate more insurance funds for companies traditionally considered to be low-risk. In the eyes of the banks, climate-endangering businesses are currently no different from other corporate financings. Companies in the fossil-fuel industry often have good credit standing, with risk ratings under 50%. That percentage doesn’t nearly cover the financial damage if and when the activities of those companies take a downward turn, especially since climate events are a substantial uncontrollable factor in their operations. This is why the Finance Watch is pushing for the EU to modify its current rules on the topic. If the EU enforced a 150%-risk rule for banks investing in environmentally impactful enterprises, it would bring such investments to the same level as private-equity and other high-risk investments. Finance Watch is supported by its members, public donations, philanthropic foundations, and the EU itself.

By Julija A. May 11,2021

Florida and New York both announced plans to lift their remaining COVID-19 restrictions following the country- and state-wide drop in new cases and deaths. After that, New Jersey and Connecticut will start lifting the measures they currently have in place as well. As CNBC reported, major retail stocks spiked on Monday following these announcements. Non-essential businesses that spent most of last year closed to curb the spread of the pandemic are now likely to get back to growing. The leisure, hospitality, and clothing industries are all amidst a re-hiring effort, and this reopening push will have a significant impact on the stock market. Retail sales surged by 9.8% in March, as customers took advantage of their $1,400 stimulus checks. The clothing industry has seen some of the most significant gains, with consumers feverishly shopping for new attire to keep up with the numerous new trends popping up over the last year. Witnessing this renewed economic power in the consumer base, more and more investors are considering buying into the retail economy. As a result, apparel retailer shares have all witnessed significant upticks: Dillard’s, the department store chain, stocks gained 9.7% in value, Macy’s share price rose by 8%, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters hit 6%, while American Eagle and Kohl’s closed up with a 5% jump. Gap share prices settled at $35.47 after a continuous rise. According to the data gathered by NPD Group, 47.5% of US consumers are planning to purchase clothing in the next 60 to 90 days. Eventually, the number of small businesses may rise as well, once the economy recuperates enough for such opportunities, which will likely be followed by an increase in bank offers to create new checking accounts. Hopefully, we will soon see a much tighter labor market and steady growth of hourly wages. On the downside, this might result in higher inflation rates. Whether this retail windfall will go one way or the other is something we’ll see before long.

By Julija A. May 12,2021

Even more corporations are looking into different venues of profit through consumer healthcare. Most recent acquisition in this industry has been made by Walmart. The giant retailer revealed it has made an agreement with MeMD for integrating this telehealth provider into the Walmart Health network. According to retail statistics, online retail is generally on the rise and a lot of brick-and-mortar stores are incorporating various online branches to their business. “Telehealth offers a great opportunity to expand access and reach consumers where they are and complements our brick-and-mortar Walmart Health locations. Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president of Walmart’s Health & Fitness division. Currently, Walmart has 20 locations where it provides healthcare in-person, with plans for future expansions of this service already in motion. Compared to more than 4,700 retail locations it doesn’t look as impressive, which is the reason behind the latest acquisition. MeMD has been operating for more than a decade and its 24/7 healthcare service is another step into the omnichannel health service Walmart is aiming for. Practically at the same time, Amazon has landed its very first customer for the Amazon Care health program. The Washington-based fitness equipment manufacturer Precor is now the first company that will use Amazon’s pay-per-user healthcare plan. Founded in 1980, Precor now has 800 employees and they’ll all get access to Amazon Care’s services, but the company won’t be paying a flat fee for that. Instead, the monthly fee is calculated based on how many of Precon’s employees actually use the service. This way, the customers can save significant amounts of money on healthcare without sacrificing anything to the end users. That is, their employees. Of course, Amazon and Walmart aren’t the only big players fighting for their piece of the consumer healthcare cake. Walgreens and CVS Health Corp. are famously leveraging their physical locations to also offer affordable physical treatments, specifically for patients with conditions that would otherwise cost a lot to take care of. According to analysts, this is just the start of big acquisitions and expansions in this field.

By Julija A. May 13,2021

It seems that even the head honchos at Goldman Sachs invested into Dogecoin this year. The “joke” cryptocurrency and its huge price hike was reportedly the reason why Aziz McMahon called quits at the investment banking company. McMahon departed the company suddenly, but not after cashing out on the meme crypto everyone has been talking about recently. The news of McMahon’s departure came from an update on his LinkedIn profile, followed by an official confirmation to the press by a Goldman Sachs representative. How much cash the former director amassed from selling his coins is unknown, but it obviously was more than enough to leave a high-paying job at one of the top banks. Maybe mister McMahon expected the Dogecoin would crash right after Elon Musk debuted at Saturday Night Live. At least he won’t be needing a bad credit loan to continue his career. Dogecoin is definitely the hotness of the year, at least in the crypto world. Originally created as an extension of an internet meme, it was never supposed to take off. That, of course, couldn’t stop the crypto enthusiasts to amass millions of these coins and, in time, Dogecoin became equal with Ether, Litecoin, and other alt coins. Still, it never really was expensive to purchase, floating at just $0.05. But, when Elon Musk and other influential people started promoting it, everyone jumped on the hype train trying to get Dogecoin value “to the Moon,” which led to a price increase of more than 10,000%. When the aforementioned episode of SNL aired, the overwhelming negative reception to the episode and collective sigh at Musk’s acting performance plunged Dogecoin’s value by a huge margin. The coin is stabilizing now, but it’s far from its highest price. Back to McMahon, the future endeavours of former Goldman managing director are still unknown. A rumor suggests he might be starting his own hedge fund, but at the time of writing this piece there weren’t any solid proofs to support that claim. Whatever his next step is, there’s no doubt internet sleuths will immediately report about it.

By Julija A. May 13,2021

Unemployed Americans could lose their unemployment aid come this June, two months earlier than initially planned. The announcement comes as a shock for thousands who lost their jobs during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Jobless Americans were supposed to receive monetary aid until Sept. 4, 2021, through the federal unemployment program, but several US states have decided to cut the program by two months. At the moment, the shortened federal aid program is set in motion in Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, and South Caroline. “Continuing these programs until the planned expiration date of Sept. 4, 2021, is not necessary and actually interferes with the ability of employers to fill over 40,000 job vacancies in Arkansas,” wrote Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson in a letter. Hutchinson added that the current unemployment benefits stop people from taking on new jobs and that the current unemployment rate is just 0.6% under the pre-pandemic rates. In his words, the government aid to jobless people in Arkansas is causing a labor shortage. While this won’t mean an end to all unemployment benefits, it will certainly cause a drastic drop in many people’s income. Specifically, it would mean that jobless citizens of Arkansas will then receive $248 a week, while the weekly check in Mississippi will be $195. The decision was met with a lot of opposition, with the loudest opponents claiming it’ll set America for a wave of family hardship. It will affect not just people who lost their jobs but also self-employed, freelancers, and gig workers who, according to the gig economy statistics, make up 36% of US workers and were already having a rough time throughout the pandemic. Small business owners in many towns had to close their shops, either for good or temporarily, until the business could pick up, saying that the government unemployment checks helped them through this turbulent period. “We’re looking at a tsunami of debt, evictions, and food insecurity on the horizon, and it’s mostly women and people of color who will bear the brunt of that,” said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. Dixon believes the decision is shortsighted and potentially dangerous.

By Julija A. May 14,2021

The real estate development and management services company Newmark announced that Richard Holden is being promoted to President of Property Management. He’ll be overseeing the company's service line and is tasked with improving operations and service assets for the commercial real estate division. "Newmark's Property Management service line has an important impact across lines of business throughout the organization," Holden said after his appointment. “With a clear path to growth and opportunities, I look forward to continuing to work with Newmark's Property Management team, offering our clients a full suite of industry-leading services." Holden will answer to Newmark’s Chief Revenue Officer and East Region Market Leader, Luis Alvarado. For his part, Alvarado applauded the newly appointed president for his contribution to the company. "Richard has brought tremendous value to Newmark and has continued to deliver the top-level service to which our clients are accustomed. We look forward to seeing him grow and flourish in his new role as a valued member of the Newmark family," Alvarado said. Holden previously served as Executive Vice President and Co-head of Property Management. He was primarily focused on ensuring efficiency in Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Before joining Newmark in 2019, Holden was the Executive Vice President at the commercial real estate consulting company Davis Partners for over five years, where he helped with the company’s growth. He was also a partner at Woodmont Real Estate Services for seven years. Newmark supports over 150 million square feet of properties with its real estate management services which include customer service, maintenance and engineering, and tenant experience. Its property management division focuses on property-related service delivery. Newmark was established in Manhattan in 1929 and remains one of the biggest commercial real estate companies to date. In 2020, Newmark’s revenue was over $1.9 billion. They have 500 offices worldwide and 18,800 employees.

By Julija A. May 26,2021