Small business owners look to grants, loans to recover from COVID-19 pandemic

TACOMA - Small businesses in Washington are facing extraordinary economic disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an announcement Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee said the state is offering up to $10,000 in emergency funding for small businesses. It’s part of the new Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program.

Allix Zemcik said she will be applying for the grant. She is the owner of Hello, Cupcake in Tacoma. Q13 met Zemcik on March 16th, the first day restaurants across Washington were required by the state to offer takeout and delivery only to reduce coronavirus exposure. Zemcik said they were only open for one week after that.

“Sales were going down so much that we decided to close and just for the safety of our employees and customers,” said Zemcik.

Now she is looking for loans while the store is temporarily closed. Zemcik sent her application for the City of Tacoma’s Stabilization Loan, just in time before the April 7th 5 P.M. deadline. It’s available to small businesses with less than 10 employees for up to $15,000.

“I don’t feel like we’re in danger of going out of business or anything like that. But, we’re not in the financial position that we were, so it would be nice to have that little cushion if we need it,” said Zemcik.

Zemcik is also applying for the Payroll Protection Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Which will help me through my payroll expenses when the employees start working again. And that one’s nice because it’s forgiven if you use it for the purposes that they give you—mostly payroll, but also some other operating expenses,” said Zemcik.

SBA is offering other funding options for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
• Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
• SBA Express Bridge Loans
• SBA Debt Relief
• Payroll Protection Program

On March 27th, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law. It has $376 billion in relief funding for American workers and small businesses, which also funds SBA’s relief programs. SBA lists information for all available programs on its website.

Zemcik said she had enough money to pay all of her employees for March and April. She plans to reopen once the governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted. For now, Zemcik said she will take the help she can get so her store can recover from impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I never really imagined for any reason that we would have to close for a period of time like this. And the fact that we’ve had to is just kind of humbling that you have to be prepared and you have to be able to go with the flow when something like this happens,” said Zemcik. “Business is nonexistent right now but looking forward to opening again.”