NEW YORK — More empty storefronts and for rent signs appear along city streets every week.
Neighborhood small businesses try to stay open and keep millions of people employed.
Another round of the Payroll Protection Program to help small business owners began this week.
Rhys Powell owns Red Rabbit, which is based in East Harlem. The company employs 120 people who prepare meals for schools.
“PPP was a lifesaver,” he said.
On Jan. 11, 2021, as part of the recent federal relief act, $250 billion in loans for small businesses was released.
Owners and leaders criticized the first round of the program. There were delays, problems applying and questions about places that received money.
This time, the federal government is working with community banks and credit unions for the first set of disbursements.
Ponce Bank, founded 60 years ago in the Bronx, created its own web site to answer questions and process applications.
Carlos Naudon is Ponce Bank President.
“I think the government learned from mistakes. They rushed the program. Now it’s our turn to make sure our folks get their fare share of the funds,” he said.
Ponce Bank has already, in the first week of this round, done five times the amount of loans from the total initial rollout.
Borrowers may be eligible for loan forgiveness if during the defined period employee and compensation levels are maintained.
A report from the city of New York before the pandemic estimated that small businesses employed more than half of all private-sector workers.