PPP loans open up for Chicago's smallest businesses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Joe Biden announced changes Monday to the Paycheck Protection Program to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation's smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color.

An estimated 400,000 American small businesses closed in the last year, and the loss is felt even more deeply in Black and brown communities.

"A lot of businesses that were teetering already, this pushed them over the edge," said Malcolm Crawford, executive director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association.

He's encouraged to hear of some help from the federal government.

"Now there is an opportunity to stay in business and to be able to grow your business," he said.

SEE ALSO | Biden boosts Paycheck Protection Program lending to smallest businesses

President Biden announced changes to the Payroll Protection Program that focus on business owners shut out of previous federal assistance. The changes will allow businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply first starting this Wednesday.

"Small businesses are the engines of our economic progress. They're the glue, and the heart and soul of our communities. But they're getting crushed," Biden said.

"We aim to provide more resources to those smallest businesses that most need the resources to try and prevent more of those closures," said Bo Steiner, Small Business Administration.

The Uncle Remus restaurants are open in Chicagoland but with a major business model shift, from sit-down to takeout only. Owner Charmaine Rickette said three of her four stores got PPP money and she hopes the fourth will have a chance now.

"I believe this time the government is finally getting it because government they work with big business but it's built on small business," Rickette said.

And it's those small businesses that can make or break communities.
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