NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Starting Wednesday, companies with fewer than 20 employees are the only ones who can apply for the latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program.
Tucked away on a corner of Magazine street, you’ll find the Uptown Music Exchange, a co-op housing several music based businesses that all fall in the 98-percent of small businesses in the US with fewer than 20 employees.
“We’ve been really lucky that our community sort of come around us in the last couple of months that we’ve been able to skate by, but it certainly is assistance that we’ve been waiting on,” Peter Harper, owner of Harper’s Horn Repair and co-owner of the co-op.
Harper and Mike Kobrin aren’t tooting their own horn, but it’s definitely been a lot better for them selling and repairing instruments than it was in the very beginning of the shutdowns and in the Fall, when not only professional musicians were unable to play but also students.
“Our business changed a little bit,” Kobrin said. “We had, all of a sudden, a lot of people trying to sell instruments more than usual.”
Kobrin, a musician, the owner of New Orleans Trumpets and a repairman with Harper’s Horns, was able to secure a loan the first time around and doesn’t think he’ll need it again, but Harper had some difficulties and is looking forward to another go at it.
“It took so long to get to a point where we were made eligible for money or where money became available,” Harper said. “A lot of the advances didn’t actually come through and so we were sort of left sort of holding our bag as it were.”
Last year many minority-owned and mom-and-pop businesses were left out, while larger, more well-connected businesses got funds quickly. That’s why larger companies are shut out of this two week window.
“Other owners that were close with have said that they are waiting on bated breath,” Harper said.
Kobrin and Harper say they are going to figure out the application over a beer, but it’s a complicated process.
Many business owners like Lee Rae think this aid needs to be more accessible to really help.
“After Katrina, there was a lot of loan consolidation with the government that was super helpful because every loan has different servicing mechanisms, different requirements that take their own time, take their own paperwork,” Rae said.
Peaches Records took advantage of a small week-long window back in January, so they don’t need to worry about this latest window.
While the PPP has kept the turntables spinning, there’s been cuts to staff. Rae says any help is welcome, but there needs to be more. Commercial rent assistance, for one, because there is no eviction moratorium for businesses.
“It’s a little bit too little too late for a lot of other businesses in New Orleans, to be quite frank, I mean, driving Magazine, the landscape is very different than it was a year ago today,” Rae said. “You know, the For Rent signs for sale signs.”
There are some other changes coming that aim to make this round more accessible, some independent contractors and self-employed individuals could get larger payouts, but those changes won’t start until early march.
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