$2 trillion stimulus, state programs aim to help SWFL small businesses

As some small business owners are faced with the possibility of losing their business, much-needed help is on the way.

That help is part of the $2 trillion stimulus package lawmakers are scheduled to vote on Wednesday.

The bill calls for small businesses to receive emergency loans.

On Wednesday, downtown Fort Myers was mostly empty of the usual businessmen and women, and tourists. Many of the shops are closed and restaurants are operating as take-out only.

A big concern for some small business owners is ‘how are we going to cover the bills?’

Kyle Cebull is the CEO and founder of the Millennial Brewing Company. He says, “A lot of my friends own these small businesses and they have storefronts and they have overhead. It’s a very scary time. It’s a very scary time.” Adding, “As it kinda started tightening down more and more, that’s exactly what I was thinking. How are we going to cover the bills?”

Covering the bills is the goal of a new $2 trillion coronavirus aid package with more than $350 billion worth of assistance for small businesses.

Lawmakers say the coronavirus aid act will forgive loans if employers use the money to keep workers on the payroll or cover rent. They’d also get a tax credit for retaining and paying workers during the crisis.

Mike Mhyre, CEO of Florida Small Business Development Center Network, explained, “Most of that assistance is in the way of disaster loan, these low-interest loans that are available to most small businesses around our country and our state”

The stimulus package also includes loans for hospitals and distressed businesses.

“It isn’t just the businesses that are going to close today, or in the next week or two,”  Cebull said. “But after we come out of this, there are going to be businesses that are going to close right afterward because they didn’t have the extra money they needed to survive the slow months.”

There are two different programs available to small businesses in Florida right now, and the governor allocated $50 million to those loan programs last week.

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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