ATLANTA - The nearly $350 billion financial lifeline meant to save America’s small businesses is empty and waiting for a federal re-fill.
Kelsey Womack owns a hair salon in Atlanta’s Kirkwood community. It’s quirky. It’s hip. And, it’s loaded with small-business owners.
“I worked for two years straight and opened everything on my own.”
She was doing so well she was about to expand, which meant she had some savings.
“I’ve been able to kind of stay afloat and at least keep the lights and the rent paid here,” she told me.
“For me, I am just in shock over the whole situation. I just can’t imagine how over-run the government is when just so many people have applied,” Womack said.
Well this is how busy it’s been. The nearly $350 billion account set aside to help save businesses like these drained quickly. And none of these businesses, which applied at the beginning, got any of it.
Joe Brannen, president of the Georgia Bankers Association, said they’ve asked for more money.
“Republicans and Democrats have to agree on an approach. What we’ve asked is that they authorize a new appropriation of $250 billion. Don’t change anything in the program. That would complicate it. Just appropriate the money.”
Meantime, Kelsey’s small staff, mostly contract workers, has asked for unemployment benefits, but that, so far, has been a no-go, too.
“They’ve all applied and they all have been denied,” said this young, gutsy entrepreneur.
But it’s coming. They will be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. According to the Department of Labor, starting April 22, if you’re not eligible for state unemployment benefits you, will get an email with a link from the DOL about the application process.
Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler offered the update.
“We are putting a lot of new things online. We are doing a lot of things behind the scenes to shave times off the processes, constantly updating anyway we can process claims by legally cutting corners here and there to get things done even faster.
Commissioner Mark Butler says this re-vamped system they’re building from scratch will help to get Pandemic Unemployment Assistance out to the self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits.
Kelsey Womack has done it all right. Saved. Worked hard. She’s being patient. She’s optimistic. But there’s tickle in her head that will keep her up at night if money doesn’t start coming her way soon.
“I’ve been open for two years. And this is everything I’ve worked for I’m afraid to think about it all being taken away.”