COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A major change is set to take effect on Wednesday for the pandemic’s number-one aid for small businesses across the country, with President Joe Biden taking steps to make sure money gets in the hands of those who need it most.
While many small businesses have relied on financial assistance just to keep their doors open, others have been shut out from aid offered through the Paycheck Protection Program all together.
“We let go of every single employee,” recalls Nile Woodson, the Co-Founder and Partner of Hai Poke, when the pandemic began last year.
It wasn’t until after the first round of PPP loans that Woodson was able to start bringing them back.
“With that money, we used to pay our employees, we pay our expenses, utilities, rent,” Woodson describes.
The financial support they received has been vital to staying afloat over the past year.
“They want you to show a 20% decrease, 20 to 25. We’re definitely above that mark. If we’re breaking even, we’re like very happy,” admits Woodson.
The thin margins and reduced income are a grim reality for many small businesses reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
Which is why President Biden is modifying the program — allowing only businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply over the next two weeks.
“Every bit counts. You know? Every little bit helps,” Woodson says.
The changes that are designed to help businesses who need it most; including minority owned businesses like Hai Poke and Raw Yoga 614.
“We created it to serve our people within our community. When you throw in all the other barriers that you have of being a minority, or being a woman, being whatever it is, the additional help is going to go far,” pleads Yaizmen Fayne, the Co-Owner of Raw Yoga 614.
Because their employees are considered contract workers, so far Fayne and co-owner Derrick Bond have been turned away from financial assistance in each round of the PPP loan program.
“You know you feel responsible for the people who work under you, and it’s hard having the conversation with somebody,” Fayne adds.
It’s restrictions on the types of employees and business models eligible that are leaving many businesses like their own aching for help.
With the new changes, Fayne and Bond intend to apply for PPP assistance again. While they aren’t holding their breath, they’re hopeful their eligibility will be reconsidered.
“Our businesses has faced it’s challenges over the last year like everyone else, but fingers crossed. We have a lot of be thankful for,” says Bond.
Fayne says their business is operating at about 20-25% of their pre-pandemic income.
In additional to being forced to move their studio classes online, prior to COVID-19 Raw Yoga 614 had contracts to teach classes with 18 schools in Central Ohio. They are now down to just one, hoping that the return to school will bring with it more renewed opportunities.