(WTNH) — Struggling small businesses in underserved communities are first in line during this second round of federal relief. The Paycheck Protection Program portal is open now to minority, veteran and women-owned businesses.
Max Kothari, owner of Star Hardware in the North End of Hartford, said when the pandemic hit, he was so overwhelmed he couldn’t see straight.
“Everyone had this look of blank faces. We didn’t know how we were going to survive.” Kothari says “You can only postpone those bills and pay them a little later, at some point you have to pay them.”
With 17 employees – this 108-year old business was one of the lucky ones. Staying open with $170,000 in paycheck protection funding.
Mayor Luke Bronin says, “There were constraints and barriers that made it difficult for a lot of business in communities like ours to get access to those resources.”
Rep. Brandon McGee, who represents Hartford in the legislature is grateful to organizations on the ground, says, “I want to thank HEDCO and SAMA (Spanish American Merchants Association) that held the hands of many of these small businesses.”
To make sure hard-hit underserved communities like Hartford aren’t left out of Connecticut’s federal delegation, Senator Richard Blumenthal fought for a nationwide set-aside. $15 billion for minority, veteran and women-owned small businesses with less than 300-employees and a revenue loss of 25% year over year.
Joe Williams, a financial advisor at the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, says his group’s goal is to help. “So those underserved and our overlooked small businesses to get their fair share of that American dream.”
An American dream that Mark Brown is living with the help of federal assistance. He employs nineteen people at Dunns River Jamaican restaurant.
“I didn’t lay off. I slashed hours and keep business open,” explained Brown.
News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina asked, “So the PPP kept you alive?’
Brown answered, “Yes it did. It kept me alive. Yes it did.”
He’s going to apply for another round of PPP with free help from financial advisors housed at the UCONN Business School. You can contact them here.
The advisors at the Small Business Development Center say if you don’t have a relationship with a bank, it’s not a problem. They will be handing out flyers. There is a QR code on them you scan it with your camera phone and a list pops up of available banks. Local banks like Liberty, Webster, New Haven Savings and Nutmeg Credit Union are approved government lenders.
On Friday, SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions. Moreover, the agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.
“A second round of PPP could not have come at a better time, and the SBA is making every effort to ensure small businesses have the emergency financial support they need to continuing weathering this time of uncertainty,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.