$350 billion in loans available to small businesses to help pay employees, rent

Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 26, 2020

$350 billion in loans could soon be available to help small businesses.

Under a new federal emergency aid package, businesses and nonprofits that have less than 500 employees along with those who are self-employed can apply for the loans.

Applicable businesses need to have opened prior to February 15, 2020, and owners must prove their employees and taxes have been paid.

Ocean Grill's Executive Chef Bryan Mathers had to lay off nearly 25 people and close the Avila Beach restaurant's doors during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's sad not to be able to see the regulars, but the biggest thing is it's sad not to see my staff. That's my second family," said Chef Mathers.

With the federal aid, businesses with less than 500 employees could be eligible for up to $10 million in forgivable small-business loans to allow them to keep paying their employees and rent.

Small businesses that maintain payroll will be eligible for assistance for costs such as mortgage interest, rent and utilities.

For Ocean Grill, it's unclear what benefits the business is eligible for since it is not operating, but Chef Mather hopes to bring back and support employees.

"To get loans to help bolster the insurance we already have to make sure that when we do start back up to make sure we are giving the best service right from the get-go," said Chef Mathers.

The nearly 25 Ocean Grill employees aren't the only ones filing for unemployment this month.

According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the number of unemployment insurance claims in the state more than tripled this week compared to last, reaching nearly 187,000.

A massage therapist in Paso Robles, Chandra Corely, said she's grateful small business owners like herself can get help paying rent and loans.

"I'm encouraged and I am going to remain hopeful," said Corely.

There's also $17 billion to help small businesses repay existing loans and $10 billion for grants up to $10,000 for small businesses to pay operating costs.

Borrowers can apply for these 7(a) loans through banks, credit unions and other lenders.

Government officials said earlier this week they aim to make this money available by the end of the month.

The senate passed the package Wednesday and now it's on its way to the House for a vote Friday.

If passed, President Trump is expected to sign it into law.