MYRTLE BEACH — Shaun Cox started her business Pivotal Health Solutions just over a year ago, aiming to meet a growing need for mental health and therapeutic services in Horry and Georgetown counties.
Given her business is just over a year old, she barely qualifies for a relief grant Gov. Henry McMaster was in Myrtle Beach to promote on Friday aimed at helping small businesses get by.
But having only received a small amount of money earlier in the pandemic, Cox's business needs help — fast.
“We have not shut down one time. We put everything in place we could. I don’t know what else to do, I’ve literally dragged this company on my back,” Cox said, breaking up in tears as she talked about how hard her employees have worked to keep the company alive.
Cox attended Gov. McMaster’s press conference at the International Culinary Institute on Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s campus in the Market Commons area. She was joined by local and state politicians, as well as state government department representatives, who were at the meeting to inform the community about a minority and small business grant the state unveiled recently.
The CARES act allocated $40 million to help small businesses across the state, but particularly in the Grand Strand where the tourism economy has been hit by a COVID-related economic slow down.
Small businesses can apply for the through Nov. 1 at 11:59 p.m. No late applications will be accepted. Eligible businesses must employ less than 25 people, be physically located in South Carolina, have been in operation since Sept. 13 2019 and can display how the virus has financially impacted their business.
The application can be accessed online on the Accelerate SC website. There is a separate application process for non-profit.
Cox already applied before heading to Friday’s event. When the time came for questions, she asked the governor if help couldn’t come sooner. She doesn’t know if her business can make it to December when additional funds from the CARES act are expected to reach businesses that applied for a new small business program.
She can longer afford to give herself a paycheck, and her business is struggling to survive the year. Cox is determined to make the business work, but the outlook keeps getting scarier.
McMaster thanked her for her healthcare work, but said the need is so great in the state that December is the soonest the government can process all applications.
“On behalf of about five million South Carolinians I thank you for your spirit,” McMaster said to Cox, adding that many South Carolinians are facing the same struggles.
The State of South Carolina is assembling a panel from across departments to decide which businesses will be funded. Certain qualities can help an application like being a minority-owned business or not having received any aid so far during the pandemic.
Once businesses are picked, they can receive between $2,500 and $25,000 depending on need. Likely there won’t be enough money for every business, but owners should be notified by early December if they will get funding.
McMaster knows the process takes time to be done right, and asks for patience as the government works as diligently as it can to process applications. The governor has no plans to shutdown the economy even as cases start to rise, and he hopes the extra CARES act money will help business weather tough financial situations.
“We know that businesses have been hurt. Some by restriction either from the state, counties and cities that put limitations placed on them. Others by a lack of confidence and concern hurt concerned citizens worried about going out,” McMaster said. “We are on the rebound but know businesses are still hurting.”
Myrtle Beach City Councilmember and small business owner Mike Chestnut said he knows first hand how hard the Grand Strand has been hit by COVID. He employs about 20 people, and this money, regardless of how much he gets, will help his company survive until conditions improve.
Chestnut also said he wished the application process was faster, but he said businesses need to apply and for the applications to be verified.
“I’d encourage every business owner, apply. You have not sometimes because you ask not,” Chestnut said. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy ... we got to do our part and follow through with the program.”