Small businesses hoping to benefit from new $484B loan package

Plenty of local businesses are relying on an influx of money to help them stay afloat. 

Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant in Winter Park is one of many businesses hoping for and depending on a loan. The U.S. Senate approved more loan money Tuesday, and the House is expected to vote on the measure on Wednesday, but business owners who didn’t get the loans on the first go-around now worry it will just happen again.

“They have left us twisting in the winds. It is about ten steps below despicable. That’s where this stands. 

Michael Schwartz opened Pannullo’s 27 years ago. Since coronavirus smacked the economy, he has lost business, money and employees. 

“We’re holding our own barely, okay?”

He was one of the first to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to pay his nearly 40 employees. He expected to receive $165,000. But like so many other small business owners, he never got the money. The money ran out. Much of it went to bigger businesses.

“My partner and I have credit scores over 800. We’ve never paid a bill late but Ruth Chris Steakhouse, they’re getting loans,” said Schwartz.

The Senate Tuesday approved a second coronavirus stimulus deal, totaling $484 billion. Three-hundred ten billion of that is set to go to small businesses. 

U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, hopes “in this next traunch, lenders will make a concerted effort to actually lend to small businesses as the program was intended.” 

She says the structure of the program needs to change and wants to cut the banks out as the middle man. But for now, replenishing the PPP money is a faster solution for small business owners.

“Congress will continue to provide oversight,” said Rep. Murphy. 

Business owners like Michael Schwartz are still wary.

“I’m somewhat excited, but the fact remains. We’ve not received one email, one phone call, or one communication that tells us where we stand.”

Rep. Murphy expects the House to vote on the package by the end of the week. From there, it’s up to each bank to distribute the money. There’s no exact timeline on when business owners can expect to receive it.