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Local businesses struggling through COVID-19 gear up to apply for federal loan assistance

Businesses say the process is arduous, but they're ready to increase cash flow to stay open.

TAMPA, Fla. — Small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic can get federal loan assistance starting Friday.

Jamaris Glenn, co-owner of the 7th + Grove restaurant and lounge in Ybor City, said he's applying for multiple loan relief programs made possible by the Small Business Administration through the CARES Act

"There's the Paycheck Protection Program...and that is where the government has granted $350 billion to help support small businesses. This is more appealing to us than any of the programs out there because it allows us to bring our employees back," said Glenn."Allowing us to get that money and allowing us to get that capital will provide so much more than running our business. It will literally put food on people's tables, it would put clothes on people's back."

Starting Friday, business owners can submit applications for the PPP, which the SBA says is a loan to help companies keep their workers on the payroll. Eligible businesses can get money to help with payroll, rent, mortgage and utilities. Loans can be forgiven under a few conditions, including keeping employees working for eight weeks.

Glenn said he's also applying for other loans to keep the business afloat.

"We've applied for the SBA economic disaster plan," he said. "We've also seen other plans such as the Bridge Loan that will give you at least $100,000, but it comes with a very high-interest rate, so that wasn't appealing to us."

In addition to the PPP and the Bridge Loan, the SBA is offering two additional programs through the CARES Act: the EIDL Loan Advance, which offers up to $10,000 and the SBA Debt Relief Program, which the SBA said will cover the principal, interest and fees of 7(a), 504 and microloans for six months.

At the center of the lending conversation are the banks that are actually disbursing the payments. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday he met with bank CEOs so they had more guidance so loans can get out quicker. 

Still, Glenn said there are hurdles in securing the funding. 

"It's new to everyone," said Glenn. "So when you reach out to your bank about it, they know little to nothing about it or maybe meeting today regarding it. So, that's been a struggle."

Glenn said he hopes to have SBA-approved loans within a month. Despite having to let go of many team members, he remains optimistic about the future of his business.

"This is in our DNA to make it. So we will make it, but it will come with a cost, and there will be repercussions because of it. It breaks our heart that we have to do certain things like lay off our employees because they are such wonderful people and it brings so much to our business. But yes, we will make it," he said. 

Business owners are encouraged to check with their local banks or an SBA-approved lender for more details on how to apply. For more information on the SBA COVID-19 relief loans, click here.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on TwitterYou can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com

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