Local small businesses trying to get loans to stay afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

Local small businesses trying to get loans to stay afloat during COVID-19 pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Relief is on the way for thousands of businesses across the country.

Or is it? The Small Business Administration started processing loan applications late last week.

The monumental task of loaning about $300 billion plus is proving to take time and understandably so.

That is little solace for companies seeing no business right now.

A local restaurant owner says her restaurant hasn’t even been open for a year and now she’s applied for multiple loans to keep her businesses afloat.

Empty store fronts and vacant restaurants are a common sight. Now, these companies are turning to their banks and the government for help.

Through a loan assistance program rolled out late last week through the small business administration.

However, some are having a difficult time applying or getting loans at all.

“The system was completely overloaded," said Natalie Freihon, a partner at Fat Radish. "The website crashed multiple times. The application that should’ve taken me an hour, because it was for five businesses, it took me over 12 hours to complete because the system just kept kicking me out or shutting down.”

“We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of action on our website,” said Ashley Bell the Regional Administrator for the Small Business Administration.

Ashley Bell works for the Small Business Administration. He says there is a high demand for loans and assistance unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Right now, the businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan or through the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Allows businesses to receive up to $2 million in a low interest loan from SBA with the first $10,000 being a grant,” said Bell.

“If you’re looking for a loan to protect your payroll and you agreed to keep people on your payroll or even hire people back that you may have let go recently, than that loan can become forgivable. That loan you can apply for with your local lender.”

However, Freihon says she doesn’t think they’ll help her business.

“Restaurants are applying for these loans with the hopes of getting them but then, you’re just going to be opening in debt. We’re going to be chasing our tails for quite some time trying to get out of debt. All of us are in small business, but restaurants specifically because this loan isn’t really tailored to our industry.”

Freihon hasn't received any money through either program yet.

If there’s any silver lining, she believes the restaurant industry will eventually come back stronger than before.

You can find out more about business loans here.

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