Small Business Owners worry Economic Relief package won't be enough

NOW: Small Business Owners worry Economic Relief package won’t be enough

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - Congress passed an economic relief package for individuals and small businesses after months on gridlock and disagreement. Both chambers passed the 900-billion-dollar relief bill just before the end of the year. Lawmakers said they expect the money to go out by next week, but some small business owners in Michiana said they're afraid it won't be enough.

"Anytime there's a level of uncertainty with your patrons and people that come out, they're not going to come and spend money," Ryan Smith, the owner of Smith's Downtown in Mishawaka said. "Our sales have slowed down the last couple months just because people are worried."

The relief package Congress passed Monday night included 284 billion dollars and another round of paycheck protection loans for businesses. Congress said it will be easier to forgive those loans if businesses spend the money on payroll, rent and other expenses. Smith said he'd like this relief package to be similar to what Congress has passed before.

"They did well with the packages before," Smith said. "It helped us out. We would've never made it this far if it wasn't for what they had already passed."

South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea said this stimulus package was not meant to sustain businesses for the long term, but rather get them through the winter months.

"Most business owners were skeptical that a deal would get done," Rea said. "They're excited that at least something got done to get them through the next couple months."

Al-Bar Ranch in Granger said it's not worried about Federal help. In fact, owner John Eubank said he doesn't expect to get any help from this package at all since he got help last time and is doing well financially.

"As far as the business goes, business has been good," John said. "I don't think it's going to hurt us at all. Personally, I think anytime you get a stimulus check it's going to help. Depending on your situation that you're in, whether you need to pay bills or if you've got money to spend that you can go out and stimulate the economy."

While Al-Bar Ranch said it would do fine without any Federal money, Rea said other small businesses do not feel the package will be enough.

"The only thing I would caution, though, is this really helps them get through this next three-month period," Rea said. "I think business owners, at the same time, are a little nervous that the pandemic's not going to be over in three months. We don't anticipate mass vaccinations until later in the second quarter, probably end of summer"

Smith agreed.

"People don't know if they're going to spend their money on Christmas or if they have to put family first," Smith said. "You've got to spend your money on keeping a roof over your head. They don't know if they're going to have any more money coming in. They don't know if they're going to have any disposable income."

President Trump said there must be "changes" to the relief package before he will sign it, but Federal lawmakers said checks could start going out by next week.

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