Some small business owners on the Coastside have begun to receive federal aid, but others are left waiting. They wonder if and when money will arrive to help them survive.
After Home Helpers owner Peggy Milne heard about the CARES Act authorizing the U.S. Small Business Administration to loan $349 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program, like millions of small businessmen and women across the country, she rushed to apply.
Milne said the process was confusing and her bank was overwhelmed. She was scrambling up until the last minute to get her application submitted. The Half Moon Bay businesswoman said it was almost three weeks between submitting the application and receiving the funds on April 21.
“The morning before we found out we got approved, I said to my husband, ‘I think we need to plan that we are not going to get any of this,’” Milne said.
Home Helpers, located near Main Street in downtown Half Moon Bay, is a franchise locally owned by Milne and her husband. The company manages caregivers who work with elderly clients in the Bay Area, around 30 percent of whom live on the Coastside. Many of the patients have dementia, are recently recovering from a heart attack, or have other ailments that require assistance.
Because of the stay-at-home order, many patients canceled their services, meaning some of the caregivers she manages no longer have work. Milne said she is using the PPP money to pay her workers in full and for additional training related to infection control. The money is also going to personal protective equipment for her employees and to hire new staff for administrative roles.
Milne said that because her business is a franchise and she had attended informational meetings from the caregiving industry, she was well-prepared to submit an application for federal assistance. She even had an example of the application form before the first round of PPP opened. Milne said the relief will help her business survive the pandemic.
But many Coastside businesses aren’t so lucky. According to Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau CEO Krystlyn Giedt, Milne is one of just a handful of business owners she knows received the federal aid. Nationwide, just 5 percent of applicants were approved in the first round of PPP, according to published reports. The SBA has not released the names of winning applicants, leaving that up to recipients.
Half Moon Bay Review parent Coastside News Group Inc. was among the recipients. CNGI Chief Financial Officer Rich Klein said the company received $128,000, which equals two-and-half month’s payroll for the newspaper. The company hopes to avoid layoffs or furloughs by virtue of the loan, which is forgivable if certain terms are met.
Due to the overwhelming need, Congress passed another round of $320 billion in funding, which is being allocated this week. Early reports show a third round may be on the horizon. The state of California has a program through its infrastructure bank aimed at business people who don’t qualify for federal funding because of immigration status or other legal barriers.
Meanwhile, the San Mateo County’s “SMC Strong Fund” is designed to help local businesses, but the $1 million dedicated by the county will be doled out by population, so there won’t be enough to fund more than two businesses on the Coastside. Within four hours, more than 2,400 businesses had applied for the funding, and applications are now closed due to the overwhelming demand.
Like Milne, those small businesses will now wait and see if they were approved. A few may get some immediate funding, the rest will continue to wait.
“I think this is going to be enough,” Milne said. “It took the scare out of waking up every morning. It’s given us a boost for sure.”
This version corrects Klein's title.