Anyone that’s taken a stroll through Deep Ellum knows that small businesses and independent venues are the heartbeat of the district. But with the continued rampage of the COVID-19 pandemic, many might not make it through this year.
That’s why the Deep Ellum Foundation (DEF), a nonprofit that manages public and private funds to advance the interests of the neighborhood, is spearheading a movement to get local small business owners and the community the immediate help they need.
Ultimately, the DEF aims to spark government action - small businesses’ greatest hope of survival. The rallying cry features Deep Ellum stakeholders, who are all supporting local small businesses receiving federal and state aid.
In a Fall survey, the DEF found that more than 50 percent of Deep Ellum business respondents would be forced to close their doors in three to twelve months if they didn’t receive any government relief. That includes the myriad of tourist attractions, festival and concert venues, and renowned food and entertainment.
According to the DEF, Deep Ellum generates tens of millions of dollars a year in tax revenue.
“The lifeblood of the Deep Ellum district - our business community and especially our independent businesses - is still under threat,” Stephanie Hudiburg, the DEF’s executive director, said in a statement. “Deep Ellum is home to some of the most hard-hit industries through this pandemic including bars, restaurants, and arts and music venues.”
The COVID-19 Relief Bill, which was signed into law on Dec. 27, includes $325 billion in aid for small businesses. The resulting Paycheck Protection Program 2 (PPP2) re-opens this week for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers.
To allocate the necessary funds to Deep Ellum’s local businesses, DEF is prompting state legislators. The 87th Legislative Session began on Jan. 12, and Hudiburg hopes it will provide targeted relief to small businesses so vital to the community.
The DEF is standing behind three legislative measures on the federal level (Save our Stages, Restart Act, and Restaurant Acton), and the #Refund6point7campaign on the state level.
Hudiburg and her team hope their efforts can keep one of the most historically significant neighborhoods in North Texas, which has served as a launching pad for artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and more, alive.