LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Federal authorities are rushing financial help to struggling Nevada small businesses to pay their employees, rent, utilities and other expenses amid the COVID-19 shutdown.
"Nearly $350 billion dollars in loans will be made available including sole proprietors," said President Donald Trump during a news conference Thursday.
"These loans are up to 100% forgivable as long as employers keep paying their workers, you have to take care of your workers," added the president.
The arrangement is called the "Paycheck Protection Program," or simply PPP for short.
The idea is to save the 30 million businesses across the United States, which collectively employ and pay half of America's workforce.
The president and his advisers briefly described the program, which is designed to cover small business employee salaries and pay for overhead and other limited expenses.
"These loans turn into grants, so if you're a business owner, such as a restaurant, you can hire your people back, you get money for their medical, you keep them on their medical plans, you get money for your rent, money for electricity, so you're motivated, we want to have your business that you can reopen quickly when it's appropriate," said United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
For some Nevada businesses, COVID-19 has stopped business all together.
"As a hairstylist, it's the hardest thing to do, because we interact with people every day, we know their stories, we know their whole lives," said Karen Moreno, a hairstylist.
At Cavaricci Salon, located at Rainbow and Oakey Boulevards, business has been cut short.
"It's just hard," said Owner Jeff Cavaricci.
"You're not used to it, you're not used to staying at home," added Cavaricci.
Cavaricci says there are 14 employees who are considered independent contractors, and rent space in the salon.
When it can reopen and business can resume is up in the air.
There are additional details still to be announced regarding how hairstylists, bartenders, and ride share drivers, for example, will be able to take advantage of the program.
On Tuesday, Secretary Mnunchin alluded to a pending announcement.
"If you are an independent contractor, if you are a sole proprietor, you are eligible as well," said Mnunchin.
"That part of the program won't be up and running until next week, but again, this is a very broad definition of 'small businesses,' added Mnunchin.
Federal authorities say they will have the most current information on the program and how it will be executed on both the Small Business Administration's website as well as the United States Treasury's website.