County supporting local businesses through virus

County supporting local businesses through virus

While some areas are being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic on its business community, Matagorda County residents are doing their best to help keep area businesses survive through this pandemic.

“From a sales tax standpoint, Matagorda County residents have really come through for our businesses during this pandemic and they deserve major kudos. For the month of September, sales tax is up in Bay City by 14 percent over this time last year, in Palacios there is a five percent increase over September 2019,” said CDC Director Jessica Russell. “These impressive numbers are not indicative of the statewide economy, either. For instance, Wharton’s September sales tax is down 30 percent compared to September last year.”  

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $765.3 million in local sales tax allocations for September, 4.5 percent less than in September 2019. These allocations are based on sales made in July by businesses that report tax monthly.

For Bay City, the net payment this period was $646,039.31 as compared to last year’s payment of $500,157.30 or a 28.16 percent increase. For the year, Bay City has received $5,059,597.25 as compared to the same time last year at $4,427,093.11 or a 14.28 percent increase.

For Palacios, the net payment this period was $68,332.82 as compared to last year’s payment of $64,896.36 or a 5.29 percent increase. For the year, Bay City has received $566,038.14 as compared to the same time last year at $541,718.34 or a 4.48 percent increase.

“This is a reflection of why it is so important to shop local,” said Mike Ferdinand, Director of the MCEDC. “Because of social distancing and self-quarantining, our citizenry hasn’t been getting out to spend their money in the more highly populated areas like Sugar Land, Lake Jackson, Victoria, and other places. In turn, our local businesses have truly benefitted from the effort to spend money locally.”

The pandemic has claimed 10 area businesses that could not survive the slowdown in customers.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, we lost about 10 businesses county-wide that were already struggling.  However, we have also had a significant amount of new business inquiries over the last 4-5 months,” said Ferdinand.

Rising COVID-19 infection rates in July likely suppressed economic activity according to Hegar’s office.

But Russell said eight new businesses are in the process of opening in the county and that is encouraging signs that the area is rebounding quite nicely from the pandemic’s early effects on the area.

“We are currently working with eight new businesses that have opened or are planning to open soon and continue to get inquiries weekly from interested entrepreneurs,” said Russell.

Russell said area businesses need to weather the ongoing pandemic storm and look for support from the EDC as well as federal funding through the CARES Act.

 “The Bay City CDC and The City of Bay City have partnered to offer local businesses a website development grant funded by the CARES Act. These grants will be available to BC businesses seeking to move their business online or expand their online presence,” said Russell.

In Palacios, some grassroots efforts have results in grants being made available for businesses in that area to help out during this hard time.

“The Palacios Economic Development Corporation is working with the Presbyterian Aid Fund, an outreach of the First Presbyterian Church of Palacios, on the Palacios COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program. This grant assists struggling small businesses in Palacios,” said Ferdinand. “We still have the webpage— up providing resources for businesses. If any business is struggling, we always encourage them to contact Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation or the Bay City CDC and we’ll put them in touch with the Small Business Development Center business advisor who can find additional resources to help them.”

Talk out of Austin indicates that Governor Greg Abbott is considering reopening different aspects of Texas’ economy over the coming weeks and Ferdinand said that is a good sign as well.

 “It is critical that these businesses are able to get back to normal operations as soon as science tells us it is safe to proceed,” said Ferdinand.

Sales tax allocation comparison summary reports present data on monthly local sales and use tax payments to local jurisdictions. These payments represent funds identified for local jurisdictions since the previous month’s distribution. When used with other local indicators, these reports may help indicate present and future economic trends.

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