Minnesota businesses get approved for loans, but 'huge gaps' remain

Small business owners are becoming increasingly anxious and concerned with every passing day of this pandemic. Multiple businesses have already posed the question: is the assistance they're getting even going to make a difference? 

To date, more than 33,000 Minnesota small businesses have been approved for paycheck protection program loans, allowing them to pay their workers during the economic crisis. 

But, at least a couple of business owners we talked to - who have already let go of their employees - are worried about taking on more loans, even if forgivable. They said they need more to help keep their businesses afloat. 

“To think that being open for 18 years could just go away and disappear in a matter of 60 days is a very scary thing,” said Jessie Wright, owner of Milaca Theater.

Wright is one of the countless small business owners across the state who’s highly concerned their business may not survive. While also still paying off start-up loans, they are now waiting for state and federal help. 

“Even the couple of loans we have applied for, we didn’t even apply for enough. We’ve gotten down to bare minimum - your mortgage, your insurance, your things that don’t go away when you are forced to close your doors,” Wright said.

During the Minnesota Senate’s Jobs and Economic Growth Committee meeting Wednesday, lawmakers echoed a range of stresses on small business owners. 

Economic Commissioner Steve Grove points out that assistance at the federal and state level has gaps but is improving.    

“We ask anyone who is self-employed and eligible for unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to apply. Even if you get denied, it’s important you do it because you’ll be in the system, and we’ll proactively reach out to you as soon as the technology is finished, so we’ll start to get those benefits rolling in,” he said.

Still, some wonder if it all will be enough 

“It’s not about us giving up and thinking about how we are going to give up as business owners. It’s how can we rebound and really be protected,” said Ian Flam, owner of Northstar Lacrosse in Hopkins.

Meanwhile, the DEED office is getting inundated with about 6,000 calls a day. They said they're moving as fast as they can.

Wednesday, Senator Tina Smith announced the $7,6 billion in forgivable loans had been approved for Minnesota small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program that was approved last month.

Senator Smith says she is working to pressure lawmakers to fix the issues that have hindered the program so far.