Small Biz Quotes on Record Unemployment and Dried Up PPP Loans

Today, we learned that the troubled Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has run out of funding, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is no longer accepting applications, and unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket with more than 22 million workers now unemployed in the US. It won’t be long before we have data showing business bankruptcies rising at an alarming rate.  We are on the brink of economic catastrophe and Congress must act immediately to overhaul the troubled PPP to provide significantly more streamlined funding and faster for a longer timeline, and ensure that workers waiting in line for UI are covered, including self employed and gig workers.

With the Paycheck Protection Program running out of funding today, EIDL no longer accepting applications, and unemployment now topping 22 million, it is clear these programs are not achieving the scale or speed necessary to keep workers employed and Main Street Businesses solvent.

With confusion, complications, a slow roll out and problems of access, small businesses have not been able to hire back their workers and we are still seeing record numbers of unemployment. Many others, who lack established banking relationships (especially business owners of color, women, very small businesses and the self-employed) have not even been able to get in the queue for funds before they were gone. The PPP loan program did not move fast enough remains complex, confusing, and fraught for many small businesses. Meanwhile, states with dysfunctional unemployment systems have buckled under record applications forcing workers to go weeks without pay.

“Small businesses need an improved program that recognizes this will be a longer and bumpier recovery, and that we need far fewer barriers to entry. Massive cash infusions alone will not solve the problem,” said Main Street Alliance Executive Director Amanda Ballantyne.  “For those that have heard back about loans, the eight week timeline of the loan as well as the uncertainty around forgiveness terms and the risk of a massive debt balloon exemplifies structural issues with the program. We need to support small businesses with direct payroll subsidies through the U.S. Treasury department.”

Quotes from Main Street Alliance Members:

Tina Lyons - Owner, Double River Forwarding, LLC
Portland, OR:
"It's getting increasingly exhausting to put on a good face for my employees, but everyday thinking that no help is on the way. Hope is not a plan.”

Kevin Brown, owner, Smart Set, Inc. Certified B Corp and Union shop
Minneapolis, MN:
“Since the middle of March, Smart Set’s business has dropped off by 80%. I would love to bring all of my staff back with the PPP, but if I hire them for 2 months, and there’s no work to do at the end of that, then I’ll have no choice but to lay them off again. This is not a long term strategy.

In addition, my fixed expenses such as rent, utilities, equipment lease payments, insurance, etc. are over $12,000 a month, but the PPP grant will only allow me to spend $8,500 on these expenses. That’s a little over one months’ rent and utilities. That means in 3 months, I will have over $27,000 in unpaid liabilities. I do not have the resources to cover this, and I don’t know many small businesses that do.

Direct subsidies, including money to be used for rent / mortgages, is the only way we’re going to be able to sustain the level of small business activity in this country, especially when small businesses account for half of the jobs in this country. And yet, the money available for small businesses is only a small fraction of the entire relief package passed by Congress.”

Michael and A.J. Simmons - Owners, Fluent Business Solutions, LLC
Lancaster, PA:
“As owners of a management accounting and consulting company that services small businesses, we emphasize to our clients that without accurate information there are only two kinds of decisions you can make - bad ones and lucky ones. And now we feel like we are in that position. Without the clarity of loan terms and consequences, without the consistency of delivery across lender platforms, and with the constant shifting of availability of funding, it is impossible for us to know if we are making good decisions as stewards of any funding available to our business. It is even more difficult to confidently advise our clients on the same issues as they apply to them. 

We need immediate funding through direct subsidies, crystal clear and understandable communication of loan terms, and consistent, reliable funding streams if we are going to do anything other than shoot in the dark. The monetary assistance is essential and the recognition of the problem by the government is appreciated, but the current delivery system is fatally flawed and working against the goals.”

Katherine Anderson - Owner, The London Plane
Seattle, WA
“We’re thinking outside the box here, and I want the government to do the same. What won’t work for us are cumbersome loan processes and the prospect of taking on more debt in these uncertain times. Loans might be helpful for businesses with larger margins, but we need money now.”

Eliza Cain - Owner, Red Hen Baking Co
Middlesex, VT
“My greatest concern is how to ensure that we don't land with an enormous loan we cannot afford while we try to rebuild our society and business.”

Mindy Green - Owner, JUPITER GAMES
Johnson City, NY
“There is outdated and conflicting information everywhere. I'm trying to make sound business decisions based on the best information available, but it's time-consuming and stressful.”

Jaida Lu - Owner, Pizza and More
Rapid City, SD
“We need continued support until this pandemic is over. This would include the opportunity for grants more than $10,000. This $10,000 helps, but when my rent is $6,000 a month, it doesn't get us very far. We need to have and HEAR that we will all be supported by the government until this is over and not to make this a game where the strongest and wealthiest business wins.”

Virginia Joplin - Verbio Group
Beaverton, OR
“There is very little info or resources available for business owners who speak any other language. This lack of language access leaves many minority business owners in the dust and violates Civil Rights Amendment Title VI.” 

Mark Frier - The Reservoir, and other restaurants
Waterbury, Vermont
“PPP, in it’s design, hurts and suppresses small businesses that have been impacted most.  PPP will turn into loans for many.  Businesses that need help reopening their doors and rehiring will find little loan forgiveness.  The cap on the fund forced many businesses to originate their loans too early, they need forgiveness when they can start doing business again, which could be weeks/months.”

Randy George - Red Hen Baking Co
Middlesex, VT
"We consider ourselves to be fortunate in that we have managed to preserve 40% of our pre-Covid sales. 28 of our 48 employees are on furlough. We applied for a received a PPP loan. To say that we signed the loan papers with some trepidation is an understatement, as it required us to agree to a statement that says that there is no guarantee of any reimbursement and that the rules for getting reimbursement will be changing over time. Nonetheless, faced with the choice between operating at a loss and having eight profitable weeks thanks to the PPP, we really had no other option but to take the risk. Our concern is what things will look like after 8 weeks and if we do indeed get most or all of the loan forgiven as was intended by Congress."

Aaaron Seyedian - Well Paid Maids
Washington, DC 
"My entire staff is furloughed and currently over 75% of them have not been able to get onto unemployment despite being eligible due to the crushing strain the system is under. I applied for a PPP loan as quickly as I could given the way big banks are slow-walking this but I have no clarity on whether our approved loan will actually be disbursed or when.  And while my employees will be grateful to be back on payroll we need certainty that this is going to last for more than 2 months otherwise we will be back to where we started very quickly.  Future iterations of the program application and administration should be straightforward, simple, and designed to give small businesses long-term grants."

 

REQUESTS FOR INTERVIEWS - Sarah Crozier; sarah@mainstreetalliance.org