SALT LAKE COUNTY – It was supposed to provide hope and relief to small business owners across the country, but funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans) have dried up. Some Utah business owners say it’s agonizing waiting to see if they’ll get anything out of it.
Elevation Catering in Taylorsville used to provide food for charters schools and for parties. As you would expect, owner Quin Hong took a massive hit when schools were closed and large events came to a halt.
She says, “We lost almost half of the business because all of my schools and events everywhere closed down.”
She applied for the PPP through Wells Fargo, but all she can do now is wait to see if she was approved or not. She understands there are a lot of other business owners in line for that money.
“There’s hope, but, there’s no hope because you’re not sure if you’re going to get it or not. In the meantime, you still have to run your business,” Hong says.
Within ten days, more than 12,000 loans were approved within Utah, totaling over $2.6 billion. Utah Bankers Association President Howard Headlee says The Beehive State actually got more money than they expected based on population. However, the demand for money far exceeded the supply.
Headlee says, “It became clear about a week in that we were making a lot of loans. We were working 24 hours a day because businesses were in a desperate situation.”
Even though many business owners haven’t actually received the money, yet, Headlee says every penny of the $349 billion across the country is “spoken for.” Roughly a week ago, bankers predicted the funds would run out. Republicans in Washington D.C. tried to add another $250 billion to the PPP, but… politics.
“Then, there was some political squabbling back in Washington, and that didn’t get done,” Headlee says.
The UBA and groups like the U.S. Chamber say they’re urging Congress to replenish the funds in the CARES act. Chamber officials issued a statement, saying, “American small businesses, self-employed workers, and independent contractors need and expect the type of bipartisan cooperation that led to the CARES Act to solve this immediate crisis.”
In states like Michigan, thousands went to the capitol to protest the state’s strict stay-at-home order. Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox tells KSL he can relate to their frustration.
Cox says, “We feel the same way as many of those protesters. We have to get our economy open again.”
He says state lawmakers and other economic officials are already looking toward how impacted businesses can reopen, however, it has to be done carefully. He believes Utahns will still have to practice good hygiene and social distancing.
“Those are the things that are going to allow us to get back to some semblance of normalcy and get the economy going again,” says Cox.
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