Loans start rolling into small businesses that keep employees on the payroll

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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Small businesses have been especially hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic. But relief is beginning to roll in.

Car maintenance continues at Watson's Automotive in Thetford. However, the seven employees had hours reduced to make ends meet.

"It takes X amount of dollars to run this business and we are not bringing that in," Bob Watson said.

But help is on the way. The small business has been approved for a $70,000 loan from the SBA made possible through the CARES Act.

"Number one, I was trying to not be one of the ones that was not laying people off and putting that burden on the state," Watson said.

Pim's Thai Orchid in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is another small business feeling the pinch. Some staffers have been let go. It's takeout only.

"Obviously, that led to a substantial drop in income," said Robert Lamprey of Pim's Thai Orchid.

But the restaurant has been approved for a $90,000 loan.

Any business with fewer than 500 employees is eligible. The guidelines are fairly straightforward: keep the employees working and the loan will likely be forgiven down the road.

"We have a really, really good staff now and it would be tragic to lose them," Lamprey said.

Both businesses are customers of the Wells River Savings Bank. That business is helping to facilitate the loans. It's issued close to $7 million already. Bank officials say they will see a return on the investment.

"It is going to be a cycle, to if they are back to work and they are being paid, they can pay their mortgages. They can pay their car payments if they have those," said Crystal Pearson of the Wells River Savings Bank.

And for business owners, it's a little bit of peace of mind, which is hard to put a dollar figure on.

"It's all about staying in business. It is all about trying to keep employees working," Watson said.

The SBA has a total of $349 billion in forgiveness loans to hand out but bank officials say that money is going fast. Anyone interested in applying should do so immediately.

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