- Gage Skidmore
- Greg Abbott
The plan Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled Monday to give small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic access to $50 million in loans isn’t exactly drawing rave reviews from those it’s meant to help.
San Antonio small businesses contacted by the Current say they either weren’t aware of the plan, aren’t interested or have already sought funds from the federal government’s $377 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
The PPP — part of Congress’ massive coronavirus aid package — offers first-come, first-served loans to small businesses. Applications for that money have been open for more than a week, and the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that banks have already approved some 725,000 loans.
Abbott’s plan, on the other hand, leverages money loaned by mega-bank Goldman Sachs and uses San Antonio-based micro-lender LiftFund to ensure it quickly gets into the hands of small businesses.
Observers say they’re not counting on the $50 million fund to go very far.
“That’s going to be gone in the blink of an eye,” said Anna Tauzin, chief revenue and innovation officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, whose members have been among the businesses hardest hit by the crisis. “That’s not enough money, and there are plenty of questions about how they’re going to handle the implementation.”
Also sapping excitement is the fact that not just the feds but Texas municipalities beat Abbott to the game.
Three weeks ago, Bexar County announced a $5.25 million fund to provide loans and grants for small businesses harmed by the pandemic. Harris County Commissioners Court last week funded a similar proposal to the tune of $10 million.
Local business owners said they’re skeptical about the state’s effort. Several said they either were unaware the program existed or hadn’t bothered looking into it.
“It doesn’t seem like $50 million will go very far if I look at the size of the state and the number of small businesses here,” said Dennis Rylander, an owner of Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling, which has already applied for PPP funds.
Maren Minchew, sole proprietor of a local public relations firm, said she’s not paid much mind to Abbott’s program because she already filed a PPP application.
“I applaud their efforts, but it’s probably a little too late,” she said.
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