Few applications submitted for SBA loans following Hard Rock collapse

Few applications submitted for SBA loans following Hard Rock collapse

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The fencing around the Hard Rock’s evacuation zone is designed to keep people out, but since reopening after the first implosion, local business managers say it’s still keeping people away.

“This whole area, I don’t see anyone walking on this side in this area,” said Hassan Salem, manager of American Fashions.

Wael Suleiman owns Viva, a clothing store sitting in the evacuation zone. Since he can't make rent on a building that's not generating any income, he says he's resorted to driving for uber.

“I have an almost 80-90-thousand-dollar business here, and now I think it’s been month ago closed, and it smells bad really bad,” said Suleiman.

City leaders have since announced a loan program with the small business administration to offer some relief.

“It can assist them in paying their debts, it can assist them in meeting payroll all they'd need to do is apply,” said Jo Lawrence with the Small Business Administration.

Lawrence says since the application was posted online, they’ve only had eight local businesses apply.

“It’s probably the fact not a lot of people know about it. One thing we want to encourage everyone to do is to apply,” said Lawrence.

She says declaring this kind of economic disaster is usually only reserved for natural disasters but says the impacts from the Hard Rock are more far-reaching than many may realize.

“You have to look at connecting parishes and the fact there may have even a supplier here in Orleans who cannot get to Jefferson or Plaquemines, or they have employees that couldn't get to work all that plays a factor in the economic injury,” said Lawrence.

That's why she says any area businesses impacted by the collapse should apply for the loan, and not assume they're ineligible.

But business owners fear they may still lose out, as the implosion of the entire hard rock building is scheduled right in the middle of their lucrative season.

“It’s going to affect us a lot because this is the season we live from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mardi Gras,” said Suleiman.

Businesses should apply online for the loans at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The deadline is early August 5, 2020.

Lawrence says even businesses in neighboring parishes impacted from the collapse can apply.

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