CITY OF NEWBURGH - After a month of waiting, Pamela Resch finally got a $10,000 cash advance on Wednesday for the federal loan she has sought to help cover bills for her closed restaurant and catering business on the Newburgh waterfront.
The deposit in her bank account that morning was a welcome surprise after a long and grueling wait for her and many other struggling businesses. But she still has gotten no decisions about her two loan applications and remains unsure if that funding - if she even gets it - would help her through what may be a gradual reopening over coming months.
“There’s so much gray in this situation for so many people,” said Resch, owner of Pamela’s on the Hudson.
Two federal programs offering loans and grants to devastated businesses started up again this week after Congress added $370 billion to them in the latest coronavirus legislation. But as of Thursday, plenty of Orange County businesses remained where they were since March: without loans, and desperate for some indication from Washington that the money is coming.
“It’s getting tight,” said Antonio Frontera, owner of Antonio’s Cupcake Factory in New Windsor. “It’s a struggle every day.”
Frontera has been keeping his cupcake and specialty cake business going with limited staff, no parties to serve, and an exhausting and fruitless quest for loans. He said his frustration has been compounded by news reports about big companies jumping ahead of small shops like his to secure forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“You know how that makes me feel?” asked Frontera, who has now applied to three different lenders for a federally backed loan through that program.
Though no exact counts of local applications and approvals are available, Lynn Cione, president and CEO of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, says most applicants in Orange haven’t gotten their funding. And Nancy Proyect, who has worked with the Orange County Industrial Development Agency to help companies apply, estimates that less than 10 percent of those 135 businesses had received their loans or grants.
“These companies are having a terrible time of it,” said Proyect, president of the nonprofit Orange County Citizens Foundation, which has had two loan applications of its own pending for more than three weeks. “It’s really heart-breaking to see.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, and other House members sent a joint letter on Tuesday imploring the Small Business Administration to give companies updates on the status of their applications, saying they and congressional staff members get no answers whenever they call.
“We need to cut the government red tape and streamline this process so our small business owners can focus on keeping folks on the payroll and paying their bills,” Maloney said in a statement, noting that emergency grants of up to $10,000 were supposed to be sent within three days.
Resch said that even if she gets a forgivable loan to rehire workers, she worries about being able to survive a phased-in return to business. So she’s devising a new plan for June and July, when she may offer cooking classes at distanced work stations and sell her sauces, dressings and recipe ingredient boxes to go with her online videos.
She said she has to adjust because “folks will still be cautious about going out.”
“For small, independent restaurants like myself, it’s going to be really tough,” Resch said.