Colorado’s small businesses, restaurants and farms don’t seem to crack the coronavirus help code

Many members of Congress have praised the overall success of the PPP. Yet as the Treasury Department has slowly update its guidelines on loans, many business owners have informed Congress of the confusion and problems with P3s. Representative Jason Crow, who sits on the House small business committee, has heard about the good and the bad.

“It’s not a perfect system. And we are working hard, we are fighting hard, to solve these problems. So there are things that we absolutely have to sort out, ”he said.

The House passed a bill on Thursday with adjustments to the PPP program, based on feedback lawmakers have heard. This would extend the time limit for using funds from eight weeks to 24 weeks. The Senate left during his Memorial Day break without voting on a PPP fix. He was considering a bill that would give business owners 16 weeks to use the funds, which would require the differences to be negotiated between the two houses.

Until then, many companies are left in limbo, much to the dismay of Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association.

“I’m frustrated that it seems like now they’re taking a long time and restaurants just don’t have that kind of time before we start to see more and more closing their doors,” she said. declared.

Riggs had hoped to see more bipartite and bicameral cooperation in Congress.

She said about 400 Colorado restaurants have permanently closed due to the pandemic. If Congress is serious about helping restaurants, Riggs said PPP needs to change and become more flexible. Currently 75 percent of the money must be used for payroll. But that’s not what worries restaurateurs. They need money for inventory and capital changes, like buying plexiglass dividers or creating a take-out window.

“Every week that something is delayed, you run the risk of the restaurant going bankrupt. So we’re saying this is an urgent, urgent, urgent time for restaurants and they literally don’t know if they can hold up for a week, three weeks, or two months, ”Riggs said.

Small farmer Audrey Gehlhausen knows how to wait. She is co-owner and operator of Billy Goat Hop Farm outside of Montrose. The 3-year-old farm sold around 4,000 pounds of hops in 2018. That number rose to nearly 15,000 pounds in 2019. Since the pandemic, sales have been slow.

She and her partner, Chris DellaBianca, considered applying for a PPP, but the amount of money they would get was so small that it made more financial sense to apply for unemployment. When another small business loan program – the Economic disaster loan open to farmers – the app asked for the number of employees on January 1. Its smallholding depends on migrant workers.

“I put zero, and we got one thousand EIDL dollars, which is great and appreciated. But it’s a shame because now I have 11 employees. But none of that matters. That was the number of employees you had on January 1. So it didn’t really take small farmers into account, ”she said.

USDA Coronavirus Food Aid Program is another aid program targeting farmers. But that doesn’t help either as hops are not on the list of eligible products. Gehlhausen said it was disheartening.

“How disappointed I have already been so many times with this new program that has come out and is really going to help us, and it isn’t,” she said.

But, she continued, each disappointment stings a little less. And she still hopes a federal coronavirus assistance program will help her small farm.

“Maybe we won’t get anything from them. But I do, I still believe.

Disclaimer: Colorado Public Radio requested and received help from the Paycheck Protection Program during the coronavirus pandemic.

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