North Texas businesses eagerly wait for disaster loan assistance

The $2 trillion stimulus package expected to be ready for President Donald Trump’s signature on Thursday includes something called the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.

The program is said to provide small businesses several weeks of cash-flow assistance through loans if the business maintains their employee payroll. If the business follows the guidelines, the loan could be forgiven.

The DFW Small Business Administration says it's used to getting calls from 25 businesses per day. Now, it's getting more than 100.

Plenty of businesses are hurting and doing what they can so when this pandemic passes they'll still be in business.    

Tamara Rose is working at The Standard Pour, doing what they can with a limited menu for to-go orders. They're hoping not to lay anyone off. She says the owner is in the process of applying for a small business loan.

“Being that you’ve never been in this situation before, you don’t really know what to do,” she said.

DFW SBA District Director Herbert Austin says they are providing disaster loan assistance.

“There is a limit per business of $2 million,” he said.

There is up to $2 million around a 3.5 percent interest rate that can be spread out for up to 30 years without having to make a payment the first year. But the SBA says so many applicants means it'll take longer than usual to get approved.

“In good times, two weeks. But now, it could be a little bit longer,” Austin said. “I would extend it to 3-4 weeks.”

A massive stimulus package negotiated by the Senate, House and treasury secretary is expected to provide federally guaranteed loans available at community banks to small businesses that pledge to not lay off their workers.

But many businesses are hurting right now, and the SBA understands that wherever the loan is coming from, time isn't on everyone's side and more layoffs will happen.

Senator Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, says the bipartisan agreement includes a provision to forgive those loans if the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis.

“Some businesses will say, ‘I don’t have time in my favor. I need money now. Otherwise, I’m going to lay off people.’ And that’s when you have to be really honest,” Austin said. “It’s really a business decision. But we are saying to you, we can make money available but we’re not saying it’s going to be next week.”

It’s conflicting times for many across the country.

“You don’t really know what to listen to and what not to listen to,” Rose said.

But Rose believes her ownership is determined to do what it can to save jobs.

"We've all experienced this at the same time, the same way and we're all a family no matter what,” she said.

The SBA says its disaster relief loan also applies to non-profits.