Small business owners demand help after SBA funds dry up


ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — Joshua Heston thought he was being responsible.

The co-owner of H&S Property Maintenance applied for a small business loan the moment the Payment Protection Program (PPP) opened up two weeks ago.

“Then, yesterday morning we get an email from US Bank saying the funds have been exhausted. And that caused a lot of frustration,” said Heston.

He is especially upset after reading news reports saying that Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc., owner of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, a company with more than 5,000 workers, received $20 million in forgivable loans.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop also received $10 million, leaving Heston to wonder how big restaurant chains even qualified for a program intended for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

“It’s just another way of saying, ‘Hey, this is for the big boys, not for you.’ I mean, to try and justify that Ruth’s Chris and Potbelly are small businesses? It’s a joke,” he said.

“We’re going to try to fix those loopholes. That’s the bottom line,” said Rep. Jason Crow, who said he’s heard from a number of angry business owners recently.

Crow, a Democrat, represents the eastern and southern portions of metro Denver in Congress.

On Friday, Crow signed a letter, along with other members of the Small Business Committee, asking the Treasury Department to prioritize the smallest businesses for PPP and prioritize traditionally under-served small business owners.

Crow is urging fellow lawmakers to return to Washington, D.C. to approve more funds for the Small Business Administration, which loaned all of its $349 billion in allocated funds in just 14 days.

“It’s not like if you wait one or two weeks and you get the money that you’ll be fine. Businesses need it now,” Crow said.

Republicans and Democrats agree the SBA needs an additional $250 billion.

But Democrats want additional funding for municipalities and health care priorities, while Republicans want to pass a single bill that focuses only on SBA funds.

“We need to get support for our municipalities, our health clinics and our hospitals and support for our businesses,” said Crow. “If we reopen the businesses, and if people don’t come to the businesses because the virus continues to spread, then we are not solving the problem. That is why we need to do both.”

Heston fears if the political parties don’t compromise soon, it could be too late for him.

“We needed this money. We are on the precipice of closing the doors if we don’t get something,” he said.

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