Greensboro small businesses navigating SBA assistance applications

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Without foot traffic in downtown Greensboro, small businesses say they’re suffering.

“It’s devastating, I don’t know if I can wait out the tide, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to be open,” said Jennifer Graf, who owns Vintage to Vogue Boutique.

Across South Elm Street, Gate City Candy Company owner Daniel Weatherington is feeling a similar strain.

“April 1 was my one year anniversary, and it ended up being the worst day I’ve had since we’ve opened,” he said.

Along with reducing employee hours and finding ways to re-work their business models, owners are now figuring out how they can get help from the US Small Business Administration.

“As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats. So not only do I own the business, but I am the merchandiser, the window dresser, the boss, the janitor at times, and now I’m having to be an accountant,” Graf said.

Weatherington applied for assistance this week. As a new business owner, he isn’t sure what he will be eligible for.

“It’s pretty important, you know but at the same time it’s another loan that I’m gonna have to repay at some point,“ he said.

The SBA is offering several COVID-19 relief options. The Paycheck Protection Program will provide loan forgiveness for employers who retain their employees.

According to the SBA, loans will be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks, and if the money is used for payroll, rent and other expenses.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 to businesses experiencing difficulties.

“If we’re able to approve the loan, these loans can go up to 30 years,” said Matthew Young, SBA public affairs specialist. “And anybody applying for the loan, if we approve the loan, that doesn’t mean you have to take the loan.”

Some business owners say they’re having trouble finding answers to their questions.

“We found that just calling a bank, sometimes we’re on hold for six hours and we can’t sit on hold for six hours to maybe not get the answer to her question so we’re not even sure we’re going to be able to apply for one of these loans right now,” said Ian Baltutis, owner of Persnickety Books in Burlington.

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