LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada businesses large and small are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 closures. Still, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto says financial help is already flowing into the Silver State with extra assistance in the pipeline.
"The goal is to put money into people's pockets and liquidity into our businesses," said Cortez-Masto.
Sen. Cortez-Masto says during a conference call with stakeholders as recently as Thursday; she heard parts of the $2 trillion CARES Act, also known as the stimulus bill, are not getting into the hands of small businesses as quickly as first thought.
"What I've heard from our small businesses is that many of them are not getting access to these funds because they may not have a pre-existing relationship with some of the banks but what I'm hearing is if you have a pre-existing relationship with a financial institution the process is much easier," said Cortez-Masto.
At Green Cleaners Alteration Center in Las Vegas, owner Mahamed Youssouf is concerned whether the existing CARES Act, which includes the Payroll Protection Program, is a solution for his needs.
Business is much slower than normal, and he simply does not have work for his employees to perform.
"We're still hanging in there, we just open every single day by myself sometimes, the majority the time by myself, I'm doing the cleaning, the pressing, everything," said Youssouf.
Youssouf says right, his largest expense, aside from payroll, is paying the rent and additional bills.
According to Kathryn Petralia, president and co-founder of Kabbage, a company aimed at helping small businesses get capital, the program will cover a lot of expenses for small businesses and will largely be forgivable if certain criteria are met.
"There is a percentage of the loan, a forgivable amount, that can be rent and or a mortgage and utilities, so some of that can be forgiven but it is important to remember: this is for employees and there are a lot of rules around how many employees have to remain employed during the period so you can be eligible for forgiveness," said Petralia.
Petralia suggests small businesses at least apply for the program to get the process started.
"You don't have to accept the terms, you don't have to accept the money, but at least find out if you qualify and determine what makes sense for you now," explained Petralia.
Youssouf says his business probably needs a different solution.
"It's just unbearable, but we just have to hang in tight and go through it," said Youssouf.
Cortez-Masto says the Senate is in the middle of debating a bill that would inject an additional quarter trillion dollars into small businesses across the country.
As for the direct cash payments to the majority of Americans from the stimulus bill, she says those with direct deposit information on file with the Internal Revenue Service should start receiving cash on Monday, April 13.
She is working with other agencies to expedite payments for those on Social Security or receiving VA benefits.