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UPDATE: Parkersburg business gets PPP loan as Congress weighs more funding

(WTAP)
Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 8:43 PM EDT
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UPDATE: 4/22/20:

After days of uncertainty, Mulberry Lane owner Tina Salmans said Wednesday afternoon that her business had been approved for a federal paycheck-protection-program loan.

“It was great news," Salmans said. "It was a surprise for us yesterday when we got that email.”

This comes as the Associated Press reports Congress is hurriedly trying to pass another aid bill, worth $483 billion.

Most of the money - $331 billion - from that would be put to work under the Small Business Administration, to replenish the paycheck-protection program, which maxed out its available loans last week.

Salmans said her loan will be coming from the original PPP fund. She said she doesn’t know when she will see the but that she’s looking forward to being able to pay her seven employees.

On Friday, Salmans expressed her concerns that without more funding, small businesses like hers would continue to struggle. She and other business owners have also said they feel it is unfair to have to compete for loans with businesses who have hundreds of employees. She noted that the loans are available to businesses with 499 or fewer people.

Now that she has been approved for a loan. Salmans said she hopes Congress will continue to move forward.

“I was definitely looking forward to them approving more because I figured my chances were better of actually getting us some funds to help us out,” said Salmans. “I think it’s a great thing. Especially for what we think of in Parkersburg as small businesses. We don’t think of it as a chain of stores that has 499 employees. We think of small businesses as mom and pop stores, restaurants and all these locally owned businesses we have in town and in anybody’s area.”

The bill being reviewed in the House of Representatives includes new guidelines which would set aside roughly $60 billion dollars specifically for small community banks that serve areas like the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“Hopefully there is some more guidance this time,” said Salmans. “I’m not saying the companies with a lot more employees than what we have didn’t suffer immensely too, and I understand the fact that they were trying to keep as many people off of unemployment or get them off unemployment as quickly as they can. So, it makes sense that they started with some of those businesses that have a lot more employees than what Mulberry Lane has, which is seven. It does make sense that way, but hopefully there is a little more guidance set aside for those mom and pop shops,” said Salmans.


ORIGINAL STORY: 4/17/20

The Small Business Administration said Thursday that it had maxed out the money available for emergency loans during the coronavirus pandemic, including the paycheck protection program.

Already-concerned small business owners now have to wait until Congress puts more funding into the program which officials say handled 14 years worth of loans in 14 days.

That leaves small business owners left to struggle while elected leaders bicker over how to put money into the program.

Parkersburg business owners say it’s hard enough to go a month on so little business, and those who haven’t been able to get loans yet are hurting.

Pit Computers co-owner Brandi Ledsome says each of the four people working at her essential business have taken upwards of 50 percent pay cuts in light of the pandemic. She says profits are down at least 30 percent. But good news came Friday to the small computer repair shop- they were one of the businesses approved for a loan before the SBA ran out of money.

“We’ve already had to decrease the owner’s payroll quite a bit, pretty much in half,” said Ledsome. “To be quite honest, I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t get this program. We’re very lucky and blessed, we got word just before you came we got word that our application did get approved.”

Other businesses haven’t been so lucky. Ledsome says she knows several other community business owners who have not been able to get any loans and she thinks some will go out of business before the pandemic ends.

Mulberry Lane Country Store owner Tina Salmans says she has applied for a couple of loans, including the paycheck protection program, and she hasn’t been approved for any.

“We're a small business, so it's me, my husband and my daughter and then we have seven employees. If we got that payroll protection thing, we could go back and pay our employees who haven't been able to work since the stay at home order. We feel really bad for them, that they can't work and give them their hours,” said Salmans.

Salmans says she has lost 75 percent of her profits compared to this time last year. Before she and her family figured out new ways of selling their products online and by pick up and delivery, Salman says they were losing even more than that.

“When the stay-at-home order came that all non-essential businesses had to close to customers coming in, that really wiped us out. But, we started doing Facebook Live on Thursday evenings and added a short one Saturday and a short one on Tuesday. That has helped us tremendously and it has gotten us back to about 25 percent of our business,” said Salmans.

Both business owners found the application process much more difficult than anticipated. Ledsome says her small, community bank had a hard time processing applications when so many banks applied all at once.

“The small town community banks were not able to get into the portal to process applications,” said Ledsome. “There was such a demand for; all the bigger banks like Chase and Bank of America were able to get in and process a lot of applications but a lot of the small town banks were having trouble.”

Ledsome thinks the program will be refueled by Congress, but she and Salmans think some money needs to be set aside for smaller businesses.

“It would be good if they could take a percentage of that and set it aside for the small town, community banks because it’s really the really tiny businesses like us who need the most help,” said Ledsome.

“It’s hard to be lumped into a group as a business that has seven employees or even if you have a business that has fifty employees and you’re considered a small business, it’s hard to be lumped into a group with any business that has 499 employees or less. I think that’s probably why they ran out of funds, I’m assuming. Because I’m assuming, if you have 499 employees you probably have somebody who is really good at getting those funds for you,” said Salmans.

Salmans says she can’t pay any of her seven employees during the non-essential business closure and the loss of profit has affected her livelihood.

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