SHAWNEE, Kan. — Businesses across the Kansas City metro continue to struggle to get the through the financial strain of the pandemic.
But there’s new hope: The next round of Paycheck Protection Program funding to help businesses is now available.
Businesses that qualify could get a forgivable loan worth thousands of dollars. Even businesses that received a PPP loan during the first round can apply again this time.
During the first round of PPP loans, there were a lot of concerns that the money didn’t get to businesses in need. The Small Business Administration listened to feedback, and made some changes this time.
Many local businesses are hoping a PPP loan will help them stay afloat.
Monkey Bizness in Shawnee is an indoor play facility for children. Owner Kristen Rowell said the pandemic has taken a toll on her non-essential business.
“We’ve just seen a huge decrease in revenue, which led to a decrease in our staff as well,” Rowell said. “You had some customers who were willing to put on a mask and come and do it just for the outlet. But then we had a lot of customers, like you said, they just weren’t willing to take that risk.”
The decrease in revenue and her good relationship with her bank opened the door for her to qualify for the first round of Paycheck Protection Program funding.
“I don’t know what we would have done without the PPP loan. I honestly, I don’t know. I think for us personally, as a family, for our staff that we employ, and for the community that we serve, it was definitely a lifesaver,” Rowell said.
A UMKC study found that out of 4,677 PPP loans distributed in the KC region, 24 went to Black-owned firms, 34 went to Hispanic-owned firms, 33 went to Asian-owned firms and 250 went to women-owned firms.
This time there are changes to help reach the underserved communities. Justin Ikerionwu, business development officer at Alt-Cap, is a part of a team helping businesses apply for the funding.
“The SBA has made it a big priority to prioritize small businesses with up to or fewer than 10 employees, businesses that have up to $250,000 in revenue for their business, as well as those that are in low to moderate income areas,” Ikerionwu said.
The SBA now allows business owners to apply through community financial institutions like Alt-Cap.
“We put together a technical assistance team that can sit with businesses and walk them through the documentation collection process,” Ikerionwu said.
Rowell submitted her second PPP application Tuesday afternoon. She said this time was much easier that the first.
“While we can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, this next round of PPP will definitely be able to get us to the end,” Rowell said.
Applications must be submitted before March 31, but experts are warning business owners not to wait until the last minute.