It's already passed the U.S. Senate, and on Thursday, a federal aid package that could help many small business that are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is expected to received similar approval from the House of Representatives.
However, the owner of one small business is finding it difficult to feel hopeful.
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“There’s no support. My business has been shut down almost a month already, and all these government small business programs, I haven’t seen a penny!” said James Chen, the founder of Blink Marketing in downtown Flushing.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced nonessential businesses to shut down across New York City, Chen laid off all 10 of his workers at Blink Marketing. And while the prospect of an additional $310 billion being pumped into the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses sounds great, Chen is not feeling confident that his loan request for under $30,000 will be approved, especially after the last round of PPP money dried up quickly. He found it particularly frustrating that hedge funds, major restaurant chains, and even Harvard University, were able to score some of the initial $349 billion appropriation for so-called small businesses.
“You ask me if I have hope for the second round? No,” said Chen. “Absolutely not, because we’re always the victim, and we’re always not being appreciated.”
The new round of funding for PPP program will total $310 billion.
But even with fallout from all of the negative publicity linked to the previous round of handouts, Chen does not believe enough funding will be available to get many mom-and-pop shops the money they need to pay, rent, re-hire workers, and survive the pandemic.
“All these programs are meant for small business. Small business means mom-and-pop shops, not these publicly traded companies,” Chen said. “Harvard, Shake Shack?”
Chen is also on the board of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. He says that, after communicating with many small business owners in downtown Flushing, he believes the high rents in the area and the lack of a vaccine will probably lead to 40 percent of the restaurants and shops in the predominantly Asian-American business district to remain closed for good.
“Everyone tells me the same thing: cant’t reopen, because it makes no sense to reopen. For example, here, if I shut it down, my loss is just the rents,” Chen said. “If I reopen, I’ve lost more. So, I have to make that decision: should I reopen or should I just close down forever?”
Under the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses that receive the loans do not have to pay the government back if they retain or rehire all the workers they had in late February.
But first, businesses like Chen's have to receive a loan, and it not clear if there will be enough money for all of them to get one.
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