SAN ANTONIO – As coronavirus cases are still reaching daily high numbers in San Antonio and Bexar County, the pandemic is continuing to leave an impact on the local economy.
Major General Juan Ayala, interim president and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the current economic state of San Antonio and the future for economic stability during this public health crisis.
“The San Antonio economy took a major hit because of COVID-19, and right now, there’s a lot of businesses that are struggling, even though the PPP loans and the government has helped. However, they’re trying to pivot our small businesses. We have about 1,300 small businesses in the San Antonio Spanish Chamber and they’re trying to pivot and be creative,” Ayala said.
Tourism, entertainment and small businesses in San Antonio have been ravaged by the pandemic, and Ayala said right now, it’s more important than ever to pivot your business model, as the future of the virus is uncertain.
“Our small business owners have been very resilient and they contributed and they made some improvements and some changes, which has helped a lot,” Ayala said. “...I’ve been very surprised at how creative and what our businesses have been doing to stay in business.”
Even if a COVID-19 vaccine officially becomes available to the public soon, the impact the pandemic has had overall on area businesses doesn’t just go away, according to Ayala.
“Even if we turn the switch on today and said everything is good and everybody can come back, we don’t know if consumer confidence and public confidence are coming to our businesses out there. I mean, a large percentage of our population, I believe, are still afraid to congregate in areas because of the virus,” Ayala said.
Another stimulus package is expected in August, granting a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks to residents, according to a report from the Associated Press. However, Ayala said that’s just a temporary fix.
“I think that it’s very interesting to see what that next stimulus package is going to look like. That’ll keep some of them in business. But again, those are Band-Aids... but we have to remain confident. I mean, we have to remain positive,” Ayala said.
Beyond anything, the general knows it will be difficult for San Antonio’s economy as a whole, but he said going forward, there is hope that we will make it through this pandemic.
“We’re going to get through this. We’re going to be confident and we are going to get through this. We’re just never going to look the same. We’re not going to look the same at the other end,” Ayala said.