TULSA, Okla. — Hundreds of businesses have been impacted by COVID-19.
Hugo Gutierrez is the owner of The Silo Event Center, a wedding venue in Tulsa. Like many industries, his wedding venue also took a hit with the shutdowns.
“It was a very blindsided moment, where all of us in the wedding and the event industry had to phase a reality we’ve never phased before,” said Gutierrez.
Last week, the federal government approved a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which authorized $7.25 billion to the Payment Protection Program. PPP offers forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Gutierrez said he is a recipient of two PPP loans. His business savings fund budgeted for a 15 percent shortage, but the pandemic caused him to double the shortage, putting him well below the red line.
“One of the most instrumental things has been on the side of the mortgage and the government aid," Gutierrez said.
He said the loans have not only keep the doors of his venue open, but the funds have also helped him keep his employees.
“Having a reliable and close relationship with your bank and also with a CPA, those things were absolutely critical in making sure that we could not only apply for the loan, but also have it forgiven because in this situation," Gutierrez said. "It would do little for us to have the funding and then have to turn around and pay it a year later when this pandemic has actually affected more than a year worth of our workload."
As of March 16, more $2 million in loans have been distributed to Oklahomans through the PPP program and nearly $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), according to John Veal, district director for the the U.S. Small Business Administration's Oklahoma District Office.
While many business owners are turning to the federal government for help, others said they are struggling to receive it.
Frank Valdez, the owner of Miami Nights Restaurant and Lounge, opened up his business three years ago. Miami Nights doesn't only represent his livelihood, it also symbolizes his father's legacy.
The past year has been rough. Sales at his restaurant are down more than 50 percent. He cut his staff by half because he didn't have the money to keep them employed. He also applied for federal assistance but was denied.
“We haven’t been able to get any help from anybody," Valdez said. "I applied for the PPP loan. They denied it when I only asked for $10,000."
Valdez credits his landlord and loyal customers for helping him keep his business from going under.
“Thank you for supporting small business," Valdez said. "If it wouldn’t be for them, we are struggling.”
SBA said the economic injury disaster loan is another form of assistance available. For more information, click here.
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