ORLANDO, Fla. — Every day counts for Thomas Ward, owner of Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa in Orlando.
“Obviously, it’s a cash flow situation and if the cash isn’t coming in, we are going to have to close and wait it out,” he said in an interview with Spectrum News.
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Since the coronavirus outbreak, Ward has lost 50 to 60 percent of his business. As a result, he’s already been forced to close one of his locations.
“We want to try to keep the majority of the staff that we can, we’ve had to cut down,” he explained. "We’ve all had to adapt to this new business model that is delivery and take out only. Take out for restaurants is a lot more expensive because of packaging.”
The $2 trillion dollar stimulus package moving through Congress could help small businesses like Ward’s, which has fewer than 500 employees.
The bill would allow banks to lend directly to businesses, and those loans would be backed by the Small Business Administration.
Further, the loans could be completely forgiven if companies use the cash to keep their workers employed or for basic expenses like payroll, rent and utility payments.
The bill also waives some typical Small Business Administration requirements. For example, business owners won’t have to provide personal guarantees or use all their available assets as collateral.
Finally, the loans will have no fees and interest rates are capped at four percent.
However, Ward remains skeptical about the prospect of receiving a loan from a private lender.
"Banks typically are very scared of the restaurant business as a whole. They are high risk investments," he explained. "If you go to a bank right now, before this, it was even hard to get money, so imagine now."
Getting the money into the hands of business owners may not be instantaneous, either. Some bank branches are closed and social distancing could complicate how quickly paperwork can be completed.
The Small Business Administration also has to sign off, which could take two weeks.
For small business owners around the country, those delays could be the difference between survival or shutting their doors for good.
“I have a time frame of maybe a month. It’s a tough situation to be in and we are obviously trying to make the best of it,” Ward said.