Metropolitan Business League helping Richmond business owners

Posted at 5:51 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 17:51:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- For over 50 years, the The Metropolitan Business League (MBL) has been a resource for small businesses, female-owned businesses, and minority-owned businesses in Central Virginia. That has not changed in light of COVID-19.

"We knew that business owners and our members, in particular, had tons of questions as it relates to how to secure some of the resources that were being made available at the federal level at the state level and even some of the independent offerings,” Membership and Marketing Coordinator Melody Short said.

Short said the nonprofit has held several Virtual Town Hall Meetings since April.

During those meetings, the group answers hundreds of questions on available funds, financial advice, and even getting those connected with the right people in order to ask state and federal level questions for their specific industry.

"It could be something as simple as where can they access industry-specific information. A lot of it is about money," Short said. "They wanted to really know what were the options available. We have been boots on the ground literally, whether it’s virtually or we’ve been on the phone with our community partners."

Lenise Robinson, owner of Parlor, has been a small business owner since 2009.

She said she and her financial advisors recently shared helpful tips during one of the Virtual Town Halls. Robinson said she joined in on the conversations after a post she made on social media.

"I put up a post saying the pandemic is gonna force a lot of people to get their finances in order and a lot of business owners to become structured properly and the comments just started rolling in,” she said.

Robinson said things didn't switch overnight for her. She said just two years ago she started making changes that have led to her not worrying about when the state would reopen.

"I switched from being an LLC to an S corp. Which changed the way I pay taxes, like drastically changed it. The other thing I did, which I just highly recommend for any business owner, is paying yourself,” Robinson said. "We see now that from people not being able to get unemployment that is very important. Because if you’re not paying yourself then you don’t have documentation to show that, ‘Hey here’s my payroll and also being able to apply for the SBA loan, the payroll protections loans."

Short said with these virtual town halls other business owners will be able to not only have some of their questions answered, but find new tools for the future.

"We want to make sure that they know, that they have an entire village and entire community that is walking side by side with them, during this time, and as we get back to what the new normal will be."

For more information on Metropolitan Business League and when their next virtual town hall will be click here.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.