"They have no money and dollars coming in from customers," said Michael Kane, Deputy District Director for Small Business Administration in Eastern PA. "What we want to do is to help those businesses to survive this current crisis."
The Small Business Administration will now allow businesses to apply to their Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which they hope will tide them over until the pandemic passes. It includes a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for private non-profit organizations, up to a maximum of 30 years.
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"What we're seeing today is unprecedented," said Kane. "We've never seen anything like this before."
COVID 19 has forced business owners to question if they can continue paying their employees and even their rent.
Ellen Trachtenberg is the owner of the Narberth Bookshop and says business has dropped 70%. While she's fulfilling some online orders, she and other small business owners said it's not enough and it's not the same as in-person interaction.
"The book store scene is a community gathering place, a place to browse and being there is really part of that energy, so if you're closed you're essentially losing the heart of your business," said Trachtenberg.
"It's very important because we have a lot of repairs, we do fixed jewelry and make custom jobs that we do but right now we can't do any of that," said Annette Brandt, owner of A. Brandt and Son.
The deadline to apply for the SBA loan is December 21, 2020, but Kane said that is likely to get pushed back, given the fluidity of the situation.
The SBA is providing Economic Injury Disaster Loans as part of the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.