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Disaster Loans & Paycheck Protection: Concerned Small Businesses Search For Relief To Stay Afloat

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Small businesses across the country deemed “non-essential” are struggling.

Cindy Abel says this is the most difficult time she’s had as a small business owner. She’s the owner of Canine & Abel Dog Grooming in Rockford and Pecatonica. She has been grooming dogs for 50 years and has had a storefront for 30.

Business had slowed to a crawl even before Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order forced them to close both of their locations. She’s spent the last few weeks calling clients, canceling and trying to reschedule through an uncertain future.

Abel and her two employees filed for unemployment. Luckily, her landlord waived rent until they’re back to work. Now she’s figuring out what her loan options are.

“I don't want to apply for too much. I don't want a lot of debt. I want to try to save my business with as little debt coming out of this as possible because we're all going to have it," she said.

Abel applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan that’s part of the new CARES Act.

Bo Steiner is the Illinois district director for the Small Business Administration.

“If the business owner uses at least 75% of the proceeds of that loan on payroll, and payroll expenses and keeps their headcount consistent, then that loan can be up to 100% fully forgivable, meaning that it is paid off by the federal government," he said.

Other businesses are opting for disaster loan assistance through the SBA. Those approved can get an up-to $10,000 advance, which Steiner says started to roll out April 10.

Abel says she’s heard from other business owners who are frustrated because they’re still waiting to hear back about their loan applications.

But when her doors reopen, Abel is concerned it’ll take time for business to return to what it was. Hopefully, she says, there’ll be plenty of dogs who need cleaning.

“My work is gonna be cut out for me then, literally. It's gonna be crazy, but I look forward to getting back to work. I'm not ready for this retirement stuff!" said Abel.

Steiner of the Illinois district of the Small Business Administration says businesses can receive free advice and counseling from agencies like the Illinois Small Business Development Center.

Small businesses, non-profits, and even self-employed people and independent contractors can also apply for the Paycheck Protection Plan.