▶️ Local small businesses look to loans and grants for financial help

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Mandy Butera opened Wren and Wild, an organic skincare business in downtown Bend, in 2019. This past month, when COVID-19 appeared in Central Oregon, Butera had to lay off her three employees.

“I sobbed, they sobbed,” Butera said. “I’m very close with my employees. I could still cry when I talk about it.”

Since then, her focus has been on keeping her business open. She switched to online and pick-up orders, but it’s still only about 40 percent of the business she had at this time last year.

“My entire life savings is in this business,” Butera said. “I went through all of the emotions. It was a good week of, oh my God, am I going to have to file bankruptcy? What am I going to do?”

Butera was thankful to hear she’d recieved a $5,000 grant she applied for from East Cascade Works. The Bend nonprofit supports employers in Central Oregon.

The grant allowed her to rehire her employees to help with online orders, but the funds will only last for so long.

“It will allow us to pay payroll for the next 30 days,” Butera said. “At this point all I hope to do is pay my employees and keep my lease.”

She applied for a Small Business Association loan through their Paycheck Protection Program. The loans aim to help businesses keep their workforce employed through the COVID-19 outbreak.

Friday was the first day lenders could begin processing loan applications. With thousands of applications for banks to go through, Butera isn’t sure when the loan will be processed.

Butera said she didn’t get a confirmation email after submitting the application and she hasn’t heard anything back.

“Is the money going to come, or is it going to be 60 to 90 days from now?” Butera said. “We don’t have enough cash flow to go 90 days without help.”

Butera, like many other small business owners, is waiting on help, but isn’t giving up.

“I’m a small business warrior,” she said. “I’m going to find a way to survive. I’m not going to just sit there and say there’s nothing I can do. I’m going to figure it out.”

 

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