Local business owners credit Blinn SBDC for helping them obtain federal assistance

'There's nothing like having somebody who can walk you through something like this,' says Tony Meeks of Zither Music Co.

May 6, 2020

Local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic say the Blinn College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is providing valuable assistance to help them keep their doors open.

In March, Congress authorized a $2 trillion stimulus package, which included a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and direct grants to help small businesses. Blinn’s SBDC provided invaluable help in navigating through the stimulus package’s requirements.

Missy Robinson, owner and sole employee of MooseFeathers, a Brenham-based floral shop, said she was contacted by SBDC Director Matthew Wehring about the stimulus package.

“Matthew sent an email and then called to talk through what might fit,” Robinson said.

She received a $1,000 federal grant that has helped keep her business afloat when customers had to cancel orders.

“The majority of my business is weddings,” Robinson said. “We got through the first weekend in March and that was it. Everybody just canceled. I already had decorations for a whole wedding in the cooler and they had to cancel it, but our community is awesome. I posted ‘arrangements for sale’ and people just snapped them up.”

The SBDC also assisted a landscaping company owned by Robinson’s husband Dusty in obtaining financial assistance.

Tony Meeks, owner of Zither Music Co., praised Wehring and John Tatum, a business advisor at the Blinn SBDC.

“These two guys were on top of it,” said Meeks, whose company manufactures award-winning stands for musical instruments. “I reached out to John and said, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on in my little company,’ and he said, ‘Everything’s in a flux, but here’s what I know.’ John and I talked every single day, then Matthew would call me later in the day to see what was going on. I told him, ‘John’s got this.’”

Meeks’ company qualified for a $10,000 federal grant, the PPP, and “emergency injury” funding.

“John told me all the things I would need (for the applications). As a small business owner, there’s nothing like having somebody who can walk you through something like this,” Meeks said. “It gives you a sense of security.”

Meeks said he used the federal funds to provide job security for his employees.

“I just can’t say enough about Matthew and John, how hands-on they have been,” Meeks added. “They’re all in on helping small businesses in our community.”

The SBDC is available to help all local businesses navigate the available assistance programs, and invites any business that has not applied for both the PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (and Grant, referred to as the EIDL) to contact the SBDC. All services are free and confidential.

Blinn SBDC offices are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but staff are available to assist small business owners at 979-830-4137 or by email at sbdc@blinn.edu.

The Blinn College SBDC is a business advising and training center of the University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast SBDC Network serving 32 counties in Southeast Texas. The SBDC program is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To discover how the Blinn SBDC can help your small business, call 979-830-4137 or visit www.blinn.edu/sbdc.

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