On Wednesday July 15, Axios hosted the third of a six-event series on small business recovery across America. Media Trends author Sara Fischer and Cities author Kim Hart led conversations with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Mint Event Design Founder Carolina Villarreal on how businesses have adapted to a changing world.

Mayor Steve Adler discussed his decision to cancel SXSW this year, how the city is supporting small businesses through this period, and lessons learned in reopening the economy.

  • How the city is allocating its resources in the community: "We've taken some of the reserves that we have as a city and made direct payments to residents that might not otherwise qualify for the federal funding. We've dedicated more than $30 million in federal and local emergency funding to support businesses and industries impacted by the crisis."
  • The three lessons in reopening the economy: "One, you don't open the economy until you actually have all the testing and contact tracing in place...[Second], you shouldn't go from one phase to the other until you can evaluate between each phase...[Third], when you open up the economy, you can't open it up in a way that looks like what the economy used to look like."

Mint Event Design Founder Carolina Villarreal discussed how the pandemic has changed the events business and how she's pivoted to using digital tools.

  • On how her events business has changed: "[I wondered] how am I going to serve my clients since they can't have parties? So I started to prepare kits I can drop at the doorstep...So I use those [social media] platforms and that just grew so fast..I had people calling me from out of state."

Axios Chief Revenue Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Head of Public Policy and Community Engagement for the Southwest Facebook office Ana Martinez, who discussed Facebook's recent research on the global economic impact of coronavirus.

  • "We found that 65% of U.S. operational small businesses feel optimistic. Forty-four percent expect cash flow to be a challenge in the next few months...Nearly a third of U.S. small businesses surveyed reported that they had reduced their workforce as a result of the pandemic. In some countries, 50% of businesses had to close."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

3. Minority-led SMBs turn to digital tools because of lack of funding

Small businesses owned by minorities were more likely to make the most out of digital tools during COVID-19, according to the Digitally Driven study.

Why it’s important: These minority-owned businesses that quickly adapted to the new normal and have a higher comfort level with digital tools have become more focused on long-term business goals through the pandemic.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Oct 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

The winners of the stay-at-home economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has created a stay-at-home economy worth trillions.

The big picture: While the pandemic is killing scores of businesses that depend on office workers, it's also making way for startups and titans alike to conquer a new industry — powering our remote lives.

4. SMBs need more time

Capital and technical assistance are critical, but so is time.

Why it’s important: Thought leaders agreed that knowing or having access to the technology is not enough if these businesses don’t have the time to actually implement those technological strategies.