MILWAUKEE — Small businesses in Milwaukee are getting another round of help thanks to the latest COVID-19 relief package.
Lilo Allen is the co-founder and owner of The Bronzeville Collective MKE on the corner of Vel R. Phillips and North avenues.
"We are a collaborative storefront, we have about 25 to 30 local Black, Brown, Queer and Ally-owned brands in the space," said Lilo Allen.
She's gearing up to apply for another Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, loan. Another $7 billion will go to this program under the latest relief bill.
"A lot of us applied for the first round and we got it, but it's not as much as we would like or we would need," Allen said. "Historically Black and Brown business owners, we don’t have a lot of start-up capital to begin with, so the good thing about this second round of PPP loans is that they are more easily forgiven, which really will give a lot of folks a leg up getting their business in order."
The relief bill also includes $28 billion for bars and restaurants, which is something Dan Dan owner Dan Jacobs has been fighting for months.
"Even more so than before, we're going to need some sustained support throughout this year, as we move towards more vaccinations and lower positivity rates and people being more comfortable," Jacobs said.
He said PPP helped him open another restaurant he had closed because of the pandemic. He says come April, Fools Errand will open in place of the original Fauntleroy on Milwaukee Street in the Third Ward.
A study from the Federal Reserve and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates the first round of PPP saved as many as 3.2 million jobs.
For small business owners, that means keeping their staff on the payroll and avoiding layoffs.
"I hope that whatever funding we do receive as far as the PPP goes allows me to take care of the people who work here," said Chrishella Roché, who owns Vibez Creative Arts Space at Sherman Phoenix.
"The stimulus helps, of course, but it will only help with us pivoting," Allen said. "So we want people to come through the doors, we want folks to get vaccinated, and for it to be safe to shop again."
According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 456,000 small businesses in Wisconsin, which makes up more than 99 percent of the state's businesses. They employ 1.3 million people, which is nearly half of all workers in Wisconsin.