Will the Paycheck Protection Program help businesses survive?

Published: May. 8, 2020 at 5:55 PM EDT
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Banquet halls are just one of the many businesses that were really hit hard financially because of this pandemic.

The Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall in Altona is just one of the many North Country businesses hoping to use the federal funding from the Paycheck Protection Program to help them over the next eight weeks.

"The pandemic has dramatically affected our business," said Brannoin Sample of the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall.

A bare ballroom the last two months for the banquet hall, a place that has catered to community events since the early 1990s.

"This has pushed back many of those banquets or have just straight-up canceled," Sample said.

Hoping for help, the business reached out to its bank, Champlain National, looking for a bailout in federal funding from the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Paycheck Protection Program works as a loan but can be forgiven if 75% of the funding is used for payroll. A business can use the money from their lender on interest on mortgages, rent and utilities, as well. They must keep documentation to prove how the money was used.

"They really did make it very general and try to help everyone," said Steven Cacchio of the Champlain National Bank.

The bank has branches in Essex and Clinton counties. It was able to help more than 200 small businesses with over $25 million in funding.

"We were very proud to provide that assistance," Cacchio said.

The average loan was about $103,000 from the bank and will be used over the next eight weeks to keep businesses, like the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall, afloat.

"At this point, it is a one-time application and funding," Cacchio said.

"I will definitely burn through that money in the next eight weeks," Sample said.

Sample says the funding will help for now, but if they can't get back to business as usual...

"We need to either open back up and start having parties or the government needs to step back in and help us," he said.

Looking for other ways to bring in cash, he's opening up food service to the community. The Barn Owl Creamery and Grille will serve as a substitute until the ballroom floor is filled once again.