SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Congress is trying to reach a deal to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. If approved, the new package would provide $310 billion to fund small business loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program through the Small Business Administration was introduced at the end of March to provided needed funds to businesses to keep paying their employees and prevent layoffs. More than 4 million small businesses applied for the loans at the beginning of the month, but last week, the program ran out of money. Now many small businesses don’t know what to do except wait and hope the program is funded once again.
“Hey there! How are you?” Terry Fredricks calls out as she’s greeting one of her regular customers. She owns one of the largest Togo’s Sandwich stores in the state. She says her sales are down more than 80% due to the current shelter in place order. She says the take out orders are basically a break even.
“All it is is enough to pay my three people that are working and the food that I’m buying to sell to my customers,” says Fredricks.
That’s why she applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan the first day it opened, but her loan was never approved. In just in two weeks, all $350 billion was gone. All of the money was allocated to other businesses.
“I was only looking for $63,000. That’s peanuts compared to what some of these bigger companies are getting,” she says.
According to SEC filings, the Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain got $20 million, Potbelly Sandwich Shop received $10 million, and Shake Shack was originally granted $10 million, but decided to give it back after backlash from small business advocates. At least 70 publicly traded companies received money as part of the small business loan program.
“It’s super frustrating that they’re helping out the big companies who make more money daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, than a small guy like me,” says Fredricks.
That’s why she says if the program does get funded again, there needs to be a different process for deciding who gets the loan.
“I would like to see them first offer it to the smaller companies that absolutely can’t survive,” say says. “There’s no money. I’m not having a paycheck. I didn’t pay my rent this month. I didn’t pay my PG&E.”
The Senate Could vote on another aid package as soon as Tuesday, which means the bill would be into the House by Wednesday. There is bipartisan support in Congress to ask the Treasury to change the rules around the PPP loans to ensure smaller businesses get first access.
Watchdog groups are also questioning where the money is going. California has received the fewest PPP loans per-capita of any state.
Terry Fredricks says of the 150 Togo’s franchise owners who applied for loans, not a single one was funded.