Mid-South small businesses struggling to get assistance during COVID-19 outbreak

Mid-South small businesses struggling to get assistance during COVID-19 outbreak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The economic pain of the coronavirus crisis is only starting to be felt. Billions of dollars in federal relief should be on the way to help keep workers on the job.

Most small business owners don’t have the kind of financial reserve that large businesses have. So when the federal government offered a lifeline to small businesses, it was a relief. But some business owners say filling out the forms is no easy feat.

“Extremely frustrating especially when you see your bank account where you’re used to seeing it, going way down,” said Rodney Brown, hair salon owner.

Rodney Brown owns a hair salon in east Memphis. He says it’s been tough for him and employees since he had to shut down last month due to the coronavirus.

He and other small business owners are trying to file for loans like the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion federal program to help small businesses cover short term expenses during the pandemic. If a businesses use the money to keep paying all employees for eight weeks, the loan can be forgiven.

Filling out the forms is not easy.

“They would send it back saying, ‘I didn’t do this and I didn’t do that. They need documentation. Now they need something else. I’ve got to get together and send them forms I’ve never even heard of,’” said Mark Heuberger, Collierville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Mark Heuberger, head of the Collierville Chamber of Commerce, says he has heard the same thing from small business owners -- it is difficult to fill out and you need a lot of information.

“For a small business, they don’t have the luxury of delegating that to a lawyer, a CPA or staff. They’re having to do it themselves,” said Heuberger.

Heuberger says despite the difficulties, the business openers are grateful the money is available.

Rodney Brown knows that when he can get back to work he will be appreciated.

“Luckily, everybody’s hair, they’re going to need it,” said Brown.

Mark Heuberger says there are small businesses that have not really been affected by the coronavirus. The kind of businesses that don’t have to deal with customers close up like home repair, lawn care and pool businesses.

He figures people are at home seeing all of the things that need to be done.

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