By Susan Mauer, Tampa Bay Market President for Axiom Bank
A year ago, phones in Axiom Bank’s commercial lending department started ringing off the hook – and they haven’t stopped. On the other end are business owners, and entrepreneurs, hoping to talk to someone – anyone – who can help them with pandemic-induced concerns, and challenges, and provide information about government relief programs. We also saw several new clients looking to grow their businesses, or portfolios, and wanting assistance from a well-seasoned team that was still doing new business.
Axiom Bank worked around the clock to help those that needed it and to provide immediate answers. Besides just helping with the PPP relief program, which was over $70 million in financial aid, we helped many businesses get back on their feet with a quick response and quick relief. We also saw new relationships grow with the bank and build up the Tampa Bay economy.
Now, with widespread vaccinations, easing economic conditions and rising consumer confidence there still won’t be a quick fix that will take us all back to pre-pandemic levels, but the Tampa Bay market is one of the number one areas of growth in the United States.
As it grows, attracting new talent, better infrastructure and fertile soil for new enterprise, there will be ample opportunities for businesses to recover.
Even though the uncertainty of the pandemic left people unsettled, for the most part of 2020, only a small amount of the businesses qualified for the PPP 2.0. This means that the businesses not only survived but didn’t lose 25%, or greater, in their gross revenues in 2020 compared to 2019. We also saw residential properties in the Tampa Bay area market increase in value.
Yes, there were several empty storefronts, but in some cases, this was due to businesses looking hard at their expenses and where they could cut the extra “fat.” Bringing business in house, when so many people have turned to the internet for shopping, just made more sense in a lot of cases. The gloom and doom that was portrayed by the media doesn’t necessarily depict what it is like in the Tampa Bay area.
While we start to return to this new normal, here are some things you can do, as a business owner, to prepare for the next time the unexpected occurs:
- Make sure you have a sustainable emergency plan to continue the business. So many businesses had to scramble last year because they were caught off guard and had not put together a true, well-rounded, emergency plan.
- Build your business cash reserves up so that you have anywhere from 6 to 9 months of cash reserves. And leave it alone, until an emergency happens.
- Ensure optimal efficiencies by reviewing each of your departments, no less than once a year.
- Lastly, investigate whether business interruption insurance is something that can assist you in an emergency.
The Tampa Bay area is seeing a surge of tourist bookings for the spring and summer months. Many local hotels, and rental car companies, are already reporting that their months ahead are sold out.
Houses are flying off the market in less than 24-hours of listing. Our downtown, on both sides of the Bay, is booming and vibrant and full of cranes, building. Economic development in our region abounds.
So “What comes Next, Tampa Bay?” The new normal is right around the corner. Hugs can be more than a virtual gif sent through a text, people can once again have the one-on-one conversations that we all crave and the business world is getting back to full steam.
And when that happens Axiom Bank is here for you.
Susan Maurer is the Tampa Bay Market President for Axiom Bank. At Axiom, we pride ourselves in our concierge service levels; we bring banking to you. From cutting-edge deposit and mobile products to a commercial suite of lending services designed for businesses of all sizes and in all stages of company life cycles, Axiom is all about maximizing your potential. By providing high-touch value and convenience to our consumer and business clients alike, we live up to our tagline: We Make Life Easier.