Massage business in Blaine struggling to receive government assistance

( Sven Hoppe/Picture Alliance )

Struggling to stay afloat, many small business owners are waiting on money to help them keep their doors open.

For one Twin Cities woman, what should be a milestone celebration could actually mark the end of her business.

May 5 is the 10th anniversary of Danielle Portinga’s therapeutic massage business in Blaine. She now worries it could be a celebration of Essentially massage’s final days.

One month ago, she shut the business’ doors. She applied for unemployment, as did her employee. Her employee was approved in a week, but she is still pending.

“We have no idea why we’re in limbo and why we’re not receiving any funds or support from the state,” she said.

Then, last week, she saw the announcement that the initial $350 billion in federal small business loans was already gone.

Portinga received her first response from the bank Monday, saying they will send an email for her to fill out more information.

All the while, Portinga is frustrated to see businesses like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses receiving $20 million. Shake Shack received $10 million as well, but decided to return the money so smaller businesses can be helped.

“It needs to focus on those of us who are microbusinesses,” Portinga said. “Those that have anywhere from three to 50 employees.”

Portinga says she knows people hospitalized with COVID-19 and doesn’t question the public health precautions. She just hopes the state and federal government can get her the help it promised that she needs or find a safe way for her business to reopen in weeks, not months.

She feels she speaks for a lot of small businesses on the brink.

“Going from the absolute best year and expanding to all of a sudden be put to a screeching halt and saying, you may not open again,” she said.