Small businesses struggle to get PPP, financial expert explains

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Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that Aug. 8 was the deadline to apply for forgiveness. Aug. 8 is the deadline to apply for a loan.

MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. – Some small businesses have struggled to get money while bigger ones got relief immediately, even as the deadline to apply for PPP loans.

“Every minute that I am awake, and some that I am asleep, I am imagining this business closing. I am absolutely terrified,” said Scarlet Lane Brewery CEO and Head Brewer Eilise Lane.

Closing is a reality that not only Lane is experiencing at Scarlet Lane Brewery. Other business owners across the country are facing closing as well. 

“Our driving force has always been our brewery. So, the production of beer drives the timing of so much and it can take weeks if not months to produce a beer that can actually be sold to the public,” said Lane.

All five locations were forced to close in March, leaving 40 employees furloughed.

“We have a lot of families that work with us. So husbands and wives are working for Scarlet Lane. And when we had to furlough that entire family no longer had that stability of what we were trying to offer,” said Lane.

Production remained at a standstill for more than 100 days. As Lane was trying to figure out the next move, she learned about the PPP loan. She was thrilled.

“We were left for the first round and seeing larger companies take those stakes that were really going to help us and help our employees,” said Lane.

University of Indianapolis finance professor Dr. Matt Will says the PPP loan is all about your relationship with the bank.

“The banks are really the gatekeepers for this entire program,” said Will.

Larger companies are more plugged in and have longevity with the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“If you’re a small business, and you’re new, you probably haven’t gone through all the procedures yet to be qualified as an SBA organization. And therefore, you probably had difficulty getting into the pipeline to get those loans,” said Will.

Lane was approved the second time around but only got money for one location and about 10 of the 40 employees. Without all of their employees, production is down. With restaurants and bars being closed, there is no drive for brew. With events being canceled, distribution is dead.

Scarlet Brewery wants to create a comfortable environment for both employees and customers. They’ve been doing everything they can to keep everyone healthy and safe.

“Buying UV wands, having thermometer checks, making sure we have sanitizing stations, closing down tables in our restaurant, marking out where there’s social distancing so nobody comes into interaction with one another,” said Lane.

With brew being their primary money maker, Lane continues to fear of another shutdown because they may not recover. 

“That means bankruptcy for five locations. That means bankruptcy for our life. Everything is gone. We have poured our entire heart and souls, this is my love letter. And Scarlet Lane is a love letter to our neighborhood,” said Lane.  

The SBA wants to stress that there is still $130 billion available where small businesses can apply. Saturday is the deadline to apply for a loan.

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