Stimulus aid comes to some small businesses, others anxiously waiting

Posted at 7:49 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 20:49:11-04

Small businesses are caught in the middle as the federal government nears the next coronavirus stimulus package.

"I'm really lucky and really thankful," said AJ Dixon, Chef and Owner of Lazy Susan MKE in Bay View.

Dixon caught some of the billions of dollars available from the federal relief programs meant for small businesses before they dried up.

It does not guarantee the restaurant will survive this pandemic, but Dixon says it helps.

"It's extremely helpful. It's just a relief to know that I can provide for my staff with full-time pay and full-time hours," said Dixon.

Matt Willers, who owns South Milwaukee's Barbiere's Italian Inn, had a different experience.

Willers also applied for federal relief but did not get any funding.

"It eats on my soul because I put so many years into the business, and it definitely gets emotional," said Willers.

Willers is upset over the process, especially after learning banks are the ones doling out the money, and big chain restaurants got funding meant to help small businesses. Stories like this are familiar.

"There's just so much need and so much money out there that if you're not in line and you're not ready to go, it's not gonna happen," said Mark Kass, Editor at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

MBJ reports lenders approved more than $8 billion in loans for Wisconsin businesses.

However, Kass says there is a lot of anxiousness in the business community. A lot of people thought they had relief funds coming only to learn the programs were exhausted so quickly. Countless businesses are still in need and anxious after waiting to see what the next relief program looks like.

"You should have your application ready to go everything approved and then really submit it quickly because this money is going to go very quickly again," said Kass.

Matt plans to apply for the new stimulus program if and when it becomes available.

"That money will go strictly to paying my staff. Right now, I have about 13 people working out of 22 people," said Willers.

"God bless our customers. I appreciate everyone that comes in and takes care of us, but am I going to be here in six months? I don't know I really don't. I wish I had deeper pockets."

Despite their different situations, both Willers and Dixon want to see more clarity and consistency in the small business relief programs. They say the terms of the funding programs change so often, making it nearly impossible to keep up.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip