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Small businesses in Kentuckiana relying on Paycheck Protection Program to stay afloat, keep employees

The U.S. Small Business Administration reported this weekend that banks had already approved more than $182 billion in loans.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The lunch hour rush at The Cheddar Box Cafe in Middletown is busy, but things have looked a little different the last month. 

Instead of customers walking in and ordering or dining in, cars pull into the parking lot and an employee wearing a mask and gloves comes out with their order. These are new measures put in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It cut our business in half but I am one of the lucky ones that we do carryout on a regular basis," owner Michelle Bartholomew said.

Lucky or not, cutting the dine-in option of her restaurant has still hurt Bartholomew, who had to lay off all of the staff serving in the cafe portion of the restaurant and cut her hours to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. But now, Bartholomew is ready to extend her hours to 7 p.m. and hire back some of her employees.

"I'm going to try to have 75 to 80 percent of my staff back, do whatever I can to get them back," she said.

Bartholomew said this decision comes after she learned she was approved for a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the CARES Act passed by Congress, the third stimulus package aimed at alleviating the economic toll caused by the novel coronavirus. The PPP allocates $349 billion to help businesses with fewer than 500 employees to help with payroll. Businesses can apply for the loan through their traditional financial lenders, like banks, and those loans can be forgiven if certain rules are met, including that 75 percent of the money be used on payroll expenses.

"Small businesses need these tools in order to keep the lights on and ideally to retain workers through these hard times," Iris Wilbur Glick, the vice president of government affairs and public policy for Greater Louisville Inc., said.

But some worry that money will run out. The U.S. Small Business Administration reported this weekend that banks had already approved more than $182 billion in loans, which is why Wilbur Glick said Congress may need to do more to help small businesses.

"We are closely monitoring what a fourth congressional package could look like to further support, expand and extend the Paycheck Protection PRogram to other small businesses," she said.

"If we get shut down into May or even June, I will totally be relying on more funding," Bartholomew said.

Some lawmakers are arguing that the rules of the PPP be lessened so more businesses can have access to the forgivable loans.

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Republicans in Congress are trying to add $250 billion in loans for small businesses. Democratic leaders are pushing back, asking for additional funding for other programs, including SNAP, hospitals and state and local government in addition to the expansion of the PPP.

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More information on the Paycheck Payment Program can be found here.

Additional resources from Greater Louisville Inc. can be found here.

More resources can be found at the Louisville Crisis Support Hub.

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