Reno mayor misses out on PPP funding for her small businesses, blames herself for not working with local bank

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By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, owner of two local small businesses, said on Nevada Newsmakers that she applied for but did not receive funding from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Her failure to secure funds from the Trump Administration’s program to help small businesses during the coronavirus crisis had nothing to do with her endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election or being a non-partisan mayor of a city in a blue state.

Instead, Schieve, told host Sam Shad, it was due to her not working through a local bank to apply for funding.

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“We worked through Wells Fargo and I think if there is any one thing that I could really preach now — more than ever — is that we really have to stay local,” she said. “Whether that is for hand sanitizer or (working) through your local bank. You have to have that (personal) relationship because you’ve got to be able get on the phone (and talk to someone), instead of a call center that takes hours to get through.”

Schieve said she will reapply if there is a new round of PPP funding but, of course, will do it differently.

“I am learning lessons as we go as well,” said Schieve, owner of the Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet. “You never really prepare yourself for something like this.”

Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.

She also hopes that the PPP process is modified to make it fairer to all.

“Just the way the PPP was rolled out, they’re going to have to be some modifications there,” she said. “One of the issues we’re all sort of talking a out is how do you get your employees to come back when they are making more on unemployment?

“Or, not just that, they are also scared to come back (to work). They are scared of that risk. So there are going to be a lot of challenges with small businesses,” she said.

“But I also think that (PPP) money really needs to have different guidelines on it because so many of the small businesses did not see that money,” she said.

Nevada ranks near the bottom in number of loans and the amount of money received under the PPP, when compared to six states of similar size, according to Small Business Administration data.

After two rounds of loans, Nevada ranked fifth in the total amount of Paycheck Protection Program aid provided through May 1 at $3.95 billion. The state remained last in the number of approved loans compared to the other six states with 30,637, according the the Nevada Independent.

Schieve, however, praised the work Nevada’s Congressional delegation has done to help the state’s small businesses.

Loans to Nevada businesses really stepped up during the second round. Nevada received the second-highest number of approved loans and total aid in the second round when compared to the six similar-sized states, according to the Nevada Independent.

“I will say that our Nevada delegation has been great,” she said. “Working with (District 2) Congressman (Mark) Amodei, he has been fantastic in hearing our issues with the federal government. It was hard for us to swallow, too, because we were one of the states that had the lowest number of businesses receiving that PPP.

“So he really has stuck in there and has been a big voice for Nevada, which is nice,” Schieve said.

Schieve said her concerns with her businesses help her understand the struggles of her constituents who are also small business owners.

“My businesses are shutdown like everyone else’s and it is incredibly stressful,” she said. “There is so much of the unknown and that creates a whole other effect. It is not just the physical effects of the coronavirus but it is also the mental and economic effects that people face. So I can certainly sympathize with all of these small businesses because I’m in the same situation. It is not easy at all.”

Schieve can also relate to those who fear the coronavirus because of their compromised immune systems.

Schieve’s immune system is also compromised. She takes an immune-suppressant drug on a regular basis because of a kidney transplant she received from her sister, Amanda Sanchez. Before suffering kidney failure – and the need for a new kidney — Schieve was a figure skater with Olympic dreams.

“I am in a high-risk category,” she said. “So we have to really be aware of the people who are high risk, like our elderly populations, our minority populations, those who do take immune-suppressants.

“I do take it seriously because I understand that it can really be something that is so deadly,” Schieve said. “So I think I’m a little more attuned because I do realize that we just need to understand that there are people out there who are at such a high risk. And obviously, falling into that category, I can understand that.”

NEW CONVENTION BUSINESS — As mayor, Schieve is a member of the board of directors for the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. From that vantage point, she sees good things for the region’s convention business in the next few years.

“I will tell you this: There is some light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

Yet Reno’s gain is Las Vegas’ loss, she said.

“We are going after a lot of business that was already scheduled to have these massive conferences in Las Vegas and because the schedule has moved so much and because everyone has had to reorganize to hold these conferences, we have been able to swoop in, Reno has, and get them on our schedule because we have so much more flexibility,” Schieve said.

“So that is nice,” she added. “That low lying fruit is going to help us get through this.”

Reno will reap the reward of the new convention business in 2021 and 2022, Schieve said.

“We’ve seen a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from a lot of conferences that probably were not really thinking about Reno,” she said. “But we have been reaching out to them, saying, ‘Hey, we can get you in our schedule and we are happy to have you. So quite honestly, I think going into ’21 and ’22, Reno is going to be booming and it will be incredibly busy because we are able right now to land a lot of those conferences.

“Reno is going to do amazing things when it comes to tourism,” Schieve said. “It is going to take some time, obviously. We’ve got to get people comfortable with flying and being in spaces where there are people. But the good news is that people are really excited to come to Reno. And we were not even on their radar, so that is what is really interesting.”

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