SAN ANTONIO — Texans can now apply for a new $50 million loan program for small businesses suffering under coronavirus pandemic.
State of Texas officials have partnered with Goldman Sachs and the San Antonio-based nonprofit lender LiftFund to launch the forgivable loan program. The loans are made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and will primarily be used for payroll.
Many businesses across Texas have closed up shop or furloughed workers amid local and statewide stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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For the owners of Coffeecionado Community Roaster, having their own business is a dream come true. Patricia Butler said they source coffee beans from her native country of Colombia to San Antonio’s South Side and they employ mostly women. They also teach people about coffee roasting.
“I wanted to make women in the coffee business visible, especially in the coffee farms. I wanted them to be honored for the hard work that they do. The best way to do that for us was to open a coffee shop and be able to sell their coffee, their products,” Patricia Butler said.
“It’s a passion project for her. She talks much more about how this business empowers women, how this business helps raise women out of poverty,” Clinton Butler said.
The state is under an executive order until April 30 that restricts social interactions and allows for only essential services to remain open, which has negatively impacted business operations across Texas.
The Butlers said they are still open, but are only taking to-go and online orders at their location on West Mitchell Street. They remain active by donating their products to the local health care community, but the changes are impacting their bottom line.
“The inability for us to be able to interact one-on-one with people, to personally interface has been absolutely devastating on our revenue streams,” Clinton Butler said.
The frustration is felt everywhere, forcing furloughs and layoffs. The longtime owners of the iRun Texas retail stores share their passion for the sport by also holding community events. Mitch and Michele Allen met running in 1992 and have been operating their stores for the past 10 years. They have a staff of about 15 employees.
“That’s been our biggest concern throughout all this is, how we can keep our staff, keep them employed,” Michele Allen said.
iRun Texas has three locations across San Antonio and they have been able to remain open by offering curbside delivery and home delivery. They have also been able to continue providing fittings for customers with prescriptions from physicians, in part because of their established relationships with medical professionals. Mitch Allen said before this week they did have to furlough some employees.
“We’ve become family with all of our staff, we’ve got people that have been working with us for over seven years, to have to talk to them about that is heartbreaking,” Mitch Allen said.
Both San Antonio-based businesses have applied for loans through LiftFund, which will administer $25 million in this new loan program. Those owners tell Spectrum News once they’re approved they plan to bring their furloughed workers back online.
“It’ll provide that bridge to when social distancing restrictions will be relieved,” Clinton Butler said.
“It’ll certainly help us sleep much easier at night knowing that we’ve been approved for this,” Mitch Allen said.
LiftFund helps small business owners with limited access to capital by offering small business and minority business loans to entrepreneurs. CEO Janie Barrera said the nonprofit is not a bank, so they rely on inventions and donations. She called the injection from Goldman Sachs a game changer.
According to the SBA in 2018 small businesses made up almost 99 percent of all Texas businesses, employing 4.7 million people.
“You can imagine what that’s doing to our economy right now. The dollars are not moving, and so the last thing we want is to have to tell people that you’ve lost your job. That’s why it’s really important to take advantage of this (program),” Barrera said.
Business owners can apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan by visiting the LiftFund website.
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