Chicago-area small businesses left without hope of federal relief after COVID-19 loan program depleted

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Many Chicago-area businesses are scrambling to figure out what's next after the federal government's small business loan program ran out of money this week.

Lawmakers met Thursday to try to reach an agreement to increase funding for the payroll protection program. But Chicago florist Steve Ziemba said it doesn't come as a surprise that federal small business loan funding was exhausted.

"I think the money ran out right away and if you didn't get it in the first day, you're out of luck," said Ziemba, of Steve's Flower Market.

Ziemba didn't get any money from the federal government's payroll protection program.

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While there are discussions about adding more money to the program, many small businesses are agonizing over the next best move.

"We know we have needs for small businesses. Let's get it done," said Illinois Congressman Brad Schneider. "We are working remotely, but we are working."

"Mother's Day got me really worried, and I'm a little concerned because I don't know if I should if I should order flowers for Mother's Day, are they to open up or not open up," Ziemba said.

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In Tinley Park, family owned Ted's Greenhouse did receive a payroll protection loan, which helps temporarily pay employees.

"It doesn't help with all of the lost sales and the uncertainty of what's going to happen next month," said Dan Biernacki.

Most of their business is wholesale, and more than a loan, Biernacki said he wants to be able to get his vegetable plants and flowers to market.

Biernacki had 3,000 lilies for Easter, but most had to be composted after orders were cancelled.

"Literally all our markets were closed. We threw away 85% of our crop," Brienacki said. "How was that? Very sad, very disheartening."

He hopes the rest of his inventory will find homes so the 70-year-old family business can keep growing.
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