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Coronavirus: Small business owners receiving paycheck protection plan funds

Jerry Moran owns and operates La Cena Italian Restaurant in the Murray Hill area. Four weeks ago, he closed his doors due to the pandemic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy, people are suffering and lives are being loss. But there's another side that is bearing significant damage; the impact on small business, the very back bone of our economy.

Most are closed and many will never be back.

 "I'm lucky. I didn't have any debt," Jerry Moran said. "I own the building and we only have seven to nine employees."

Moran owns and operates La Cena Italian Restaurant in the Murray Hill area. Four weeks ago, he closed his doors due to the pandemic.

"This is something that was forced on us," he said.

He said he has maintained his payroll out of his pocket but decided to seek help through CARES, the Conronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

"I don't believe in hand outs, but if I can get help and it is reasonable to do," he said.

A few days ago when the program opened for application, Moran went to his Bank of America branch and applied for paycheck protection plan. Monday he received an email and Tuesday there was a deposit in his bank account.

"I woke up and $9,000 were in my account, which is good," he said. "That covers two pay periods."

His application is for $36,000, based on his 2019 payroll. The early deposit is an advance.

"I made a new round of paychecks yesterday and everybody is pleased with it," Moran said.

He is hoping the economy will be back open for business soon, knowing it will be different.  

The PPP funds are limited.

"The funds will cover the payroll for the next two-and-a-half months or so," he said.

Ernie McKinney owns and operates All Star Youth Sports. He too has received an advance on the Paycheck Protection Program.

"It will help us, but we were looking for help beyond that," McKinney said.

In March, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced a bridge loan for small business owners.

It is a one year $50,000 interest free, and McKinney said he applied.

"I had been checking, and yesterday they told me if I haven't heard by now I won't be getting anything," he said. "The program is out of funds. I am so frustrated."

It was a $50 million program. There were 38,000 applicants and 37,000 of them walked away with nothing. Only 1,000 received any assistance.

"I have applied for the disaster assistance through the CARES Act and I'm waiting to see what happens," McKinney said.

Everyone hopes the economy will be back up and running in two months. But for now, they are trying to hold on with the help that is available to them.

"Most restaurants live paycheck-to-paycheck. If this doesn't teach us anything, it should teach us to save, " Moran said.

As for the future business landscape, he expects consumers to hesitant; he said it will take some time for people to adjust.

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