Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.com

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Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

A Wave of Small Business Closures Is on the Way. Can Washington Stop It? - The New York Times

A Wave of Small Business Closures Is on the Way. Can Washington Stop It? - The New York Times


A Wave of Small Business Closures Is on the Way. Can Washington Stop It? - The New York Times

Posted: 21 May 2020 02:46 AM PDT

One of the great threats to the post-pandemic economy is becoming clear: Vast numbers of small and midsize businesses will close permanently during the crisis, causing millions of jobs to be lost.

The federal government moved with uncharacteristic speed to help those businesses — enacting the Paycheck Protection Program, with $669 billion allocated so far.

But there is a problem. The structure of the program is not particularly well suited to the type of crisis that millions of businesses face. The program may have bought businesses some time, but in its current shape it will not enable many of them to remain solvent long enough to emerge from the other side of the pandemic in some viable form.

Rather, it is more tailored to what the crisis looked liked when shutdowns first took place in the olden times of March 2020, when it seemed that business closures would be a short-term blip and everyone might be able to get back to normal by summer.

It was intended to cover eight weeks' worth of expenses, of which 75 percent must apply to payroll, for firms with under 500 employees. Now it is looking likely that many businesses will face revenue shortfalls for many months.

For loans made under the program to be fully forgiven, an employer must maintain pre-crisis employment levels. Now it's clear many businesses will permanently shift to smaller staffing levels to remain viable, such as restaurants operating at partial capacity.

The program is technically available to companies that make a good-faith assertion that they need help to support operations. But it doesn't distinguish between firms with mild and temporary disruptions and those facing threat of permanent closure.

Moreover, the structure of the program, which provides a recipient with a Small Business Administration-backed loan that is then forgiven if certain conditions are met, could make some business owners reluctant to take advantage. They might fear that if they run afoul of the government's rules, they will have even more debt heaped on top of a failing enterprise.

"The risk is that they've spent more money on this program than anyone has ever spent on a small-business program in world history, but haven't changed the trajectory of permanent small-business closures," said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank that advocates business dynamism. "If the patient has a gaping chest wound and you give him a bandage, it's better than nothing but probably isn't going to keep the patient alive."

When Congress enacted the Paycheck Protection Program as part of a $2 trillion aid package in March, it still seemed plausible that the disruption to the economy would be temporary. And the P.P.P. was devised to ensure that employers kept as many people on their payrolls as possible. But that has often acted at cross-purposes with the goal of having businesses ultimately emerge as viable enterprises.

"The P.P.P. makes sense in that incentivizing employers to keep people on payroll and compensating them for doing that is valuable, especially given the overwhelming of the unemployment insurance system that was happening," said Adam Ozimek, chief economist of Upwork, a website for freelancers. "Conceptually that makes sense, but the issue is trying to do that and at the same time address the issue of massive small business insolvency that we are increasingly facing."

Mr. Ozimek is dealing with the tension firsthand. In addition to his job as an economist studying labor markets, he is co-owner of Decades, a bowling alley, restaurant and bar in Lancaster, Pa. Before the pandemic, it employed the equivalent of 35 full-time employees, but it now needs fewer workers while takeout food is its only business. It has taken a P.P.P. loan.

Leading economists have identified the mass closure of service-oriented businesses as a particular risk for the medium-term future of the economy. One survey of 5,800 small businesses conducted in late March found that only 47 percent expected to still be in business at the end of the year if the crisis lasted four months.

"The loss of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses across the country would destroy the life's work and family legacy of many business and community leaders and limit the strength of the recovery when it comes," Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said in a speech last week. "These businesses are a principal source of job creation — something we will sorely need as people seek to return to work."

There's not much the government can do if a health crisis renders some types of businesses, especially those where large groups of people gather, nonviable indefinitely. But there are several ideas circulating on Capitol Hill to try to address the potential of mass small business closures.

Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, plan to introduce a bill text Thursday on what they call the "Restart Act." Businesses would receive loans to finance six months' worth of fixed operating costs and payroll, offered at a low interest rate — no payments due for 12 months — and with a seven-year term.

In their bill, the government would forgive the share of the loan devoted to payroll, rent and other fixed expenses based on the company's revenue decline. So it would act as a loan for companies that are able to weather the downturn, and act as a grant for those more severely affected.

Another group of senators, including the Republican Mitt Romney of Utah and the Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have proposed legislation that would build on the Paycheck Protection Program, in part by expanding the period for loan forgiveness from eight to 16 weeks.

In the House, Representatives Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, and Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, have offered legislation that would, among other steps, extend the duration of P.P.P. loans.

The bipartisan nature of the bills shows this issue doesn't cleave along the usual ideological divides. A key question is whether whatever comes next will enable businesses that are in a deep hole now — but have a viable future once the public health crisis recedes — to get from Point A to Point B.

And it would particularly help if any new or revised P.P.P. program would have clearer rules of the game and greater predictability about who is truly eligible and under what terms.

"To be kind to both Republicans and Democrats who came up with this plan on the fly, the magnitude of the shock is so much larger than what anybody thought it was at the time," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an accounting firm that serves midsize companies. "It makes sense to revisit the program.

"Right now what we're hearing from our clients is that they are frustrated and confused."

In many of the hardest-hit states, COVID-19 small business relief is lagging - Brookings Institution

Posted: 21 May 2020 08:38 AM PDT

For the past two months, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the U.S. into lockdown. Now, the nation's small businesses, most of which relied on foot traffic to generate revenue, are facing unprecedented challenges.

For policymakers, understanding what is happening in real time is more important than ever. Yet tracking small business revenue at the state level is usually not possible, due to multiyear lags in official statistics. In this piece, we tackle that gap by using data from Opportunity Insights' Economic Tracker, which aggregates real-time data held by private companies, offering a unique opportunity to "nowcast" the economy.

The extremely fresh data come with limitations. Opportunity Insights collects small business purchases data from Womply, a small business software provider—thus their data represent only Womply clients, and may not be representative of the entire small business sector. Comparing 2019 Womply data to Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Opportunity Insights found Womply data to be slightly skewed toward food industries. Since food industries are taking one of the hardest hits in this crisis, we are likely to overestimate the actual scale of revenue loss by projecting Womply data across all industries. Nonetheless, before a nationally representative sample from official statistics is available, this analysis provides valuable insights on where COVID-19 relief efforts are falling short.

The severity of the small business crisis varies across states

Small business revenues have plunged everywhere. Yet, due to the varying severity of the pandemic across the U.S., varying industry exposure, and varying levels of lockdown orders, some states are more exposed to the crisis than others. Compared to early January, small businesses in North Dakota, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii have experienced a revenue loss of over 60% on average since March 13, the declaration of the national emergency (Map 1). At the other end of the spectrum, small businesses in Utah, Wyoming, and Maine saw a 25% decline in revenue. Even at the low end, this represents a tremendous collapse.

Map1

States' access to federal small business relief has been uneven

As of May 8, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—the federal government's primary tool to mitigate this small business crisis—has made $537 billion in loans to 3.6 million businesses. This is a historic relief effort, yet last week's Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey showed that 41% of businesses that applied are still waiting for approval.

This gap is more pronounced at the subnational level. We plotted states' PPP processing rate against their exposure to small business impact, with the horizontal axis showing percentage change in small business revenue loss, and the vertical axis showing share of PPP applications that have been approved (Chart 1).

Chart1

In general, Midwestern states fared better than coastal states. Midwestern states tend to have much smaller PPP backlogs, partly due to a high concentration of small, local banks, while national banks that dominate large, urban markets were slow to lend.

Florida, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. are among the most exposed to small business revenue impact, with declines in revenue of over 50%. Yet, all three still have massive PPP application backlogs, with fewer than 40% of applicants receiving a loan. In contrast, North Dakota, another hard-hit state, managed to ramp up its PPP processing speed and deliver relief to more than 80% of small businesses in need.

The application processing speed matters because many small businesses don't have a large enough cash buffer to keep themselves running. The Small Business Pulse Survey found that two-thirds of all businesses have less than two months of cash on hand to cover operations, and a quarter have missed a scheduled payment since March 13. In other words, without timely assistance, many of them will soon be out of business.

How to reopen your small business: Take care of your employees first - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted: 21 May 2020 08:35 AM PDT

For starters, they changed the way they worked. Don't expect that your employees will come streaming in the doors at 9 am, sit at their desks and pick up from where they left off. The essential businesses that stayed in operation made significant efforts to keep their employees safely distanced from each other and comfortable in the office. That meant staggering shifts, requiring masks, encouraging frequent hand-washing, moving around desks, limiting access to common areas and overall reducing face-to-face interactions.

3 Inspiring Small Business Stories On How To Survive During Covid-19 - Forbes

Posted: 21 May 2020 05:31 AM PDT

What does a taco shop, a physical therapist and an expert event planner have in common? They are all small business owners who are persevering in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their stories are inspiring examples of how small businesses are using creativity, connection, and community to navigate their survival in the face of adversity.

Meet The Business Owners

Bettina Stern, Co-owner, Chaia Taco

Chaia Taco is an unconventional taco shop serving insanely delicious tacos made entirely with vegetables. We operate two restaurants in Washington, DC. where we strive to merge fine food experience with the convenience of fast casual service. As a "farm to taco" shop, our tacos are filled only with the freshest, local, (and whenever possible organic) vegetables inventively prepared from scratch, and combined with spices, house-made salsas, and other tasty toppings—all tucked inside a handmade, griddled corn tortilla.

Dr. Fred Gilbert, C0-owner & Chief People Officer, MovementX

MovementX provides mobile, one-on-one, hands-on physical therapy. Our expert physical therapists deliver exceptional individualized service by treating our clients where they live, work and exercise. At MovementX we believe in the transformative power of movement - if you are moving well, you can experience your healthiest and most fulfilling life. Our mobile service helps our clients receive high quality care at the location of their choice—no lines, no wait times, no trips to a clinic.

Charlotte Reid, Co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Reid-Rodell

Reid-Rodell is a full-service event planning firm, specializing in creating memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences both in the US and worldwide. We produce events of all types and sizes, including political fundraisers, business and social receptions, national conferences, brand launches, large non-profit galas, and social gatherings such as milestone birthdays, children's events, weddings, funerals, and reunions. We pride ourselves on anticipating our client's needs and exceeding their expectations.

The Pandemic Impact

Stern: Unquestionably, this has been the most difficult moment many of us may have faced, but definitely for Chaia. Sales are down more than 80% pre-virus. The severity of the Covid-19 crisis has put our business and our community in completely uncharted territory. On March 15, we closed our shops for regular in-dining service. We made this decision several days ahead of our Mayor's shut down orders in order to protect our staff, our customers, and our community.

Gilbert: The initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown was a dramatic drop in business as our patients and providers got their bearings around the situation. As people went into lock-down, it became apparent that physical distancing was going to have an enormous impact on how we serve our clients. To survive, MovementX knew we had to prioritize finding alternative ways to provide high-quality and safe care in this new environment. 

Reid: Our business is based upon in-person gatherings, so when people began to quarantine at home, we immediately lost 95% of scheduled events for the second quarter and counting. Since health concerns and government pandemic policies directly impact how people can and will gather for the foreseeable future, we realized we had to quickly pivot and adjust our business model.

The Pandemic Pivot

Stern: Like many in the restaurant industry, Chaia adapted as best we could to navigate the Covid-19 environment. At the onset, Chaia was prepared to move immediately to offering only pick-up, delivery, and takeout options. We limited our service hours, adopted a pared-down menu, and began serving customers exclusively through take-out and delivery. This helped us minimize employee exposure and reduce labor costs. We now operate with a two-person team that consists of one owner and one kitchen employee in each store.

We are also collaborating with local charities and organizations to provide meals to front-line healthcare workers who are working tirelessly around the clock. Those of us in the food world are already in the trenches, so we believe that we must step up and help feed our communities - especially those in need across our city. We continue to explore every possible way to be a part of the solution, as well as the healing process. If we can continue to serve amazing food and keep our staff employed, we hope to be well poised to get back to business as usual someday.

Gilbert: The primary shift in our business model during this crisis has been on how we deliver care to our clients. We shifted from 100% in-person, hands-on care to primarily telehealth and some social distanced sessions that are in-person, but where patient and therapist remain 6-10 feet away from each other. We reserve these in-person treatments for those who have the most critical needs and appropriate personal protective equipment.

We also launched a virtual exercise series designed for the population most affected by this pandemic–our older adults. Many older adults became suddenly sedentary and their day-to-day movement dramatically restricted, so we want to help them navigate this uncertain time.  Our virtual, Age Proof Your Body program is a specialized 8-week experience designed for anyone 60+ who wants to stay healthy, active, and strong. We will donate 100% of this program's proceeds to charities fighting the pandemic. Physical therapy has an important role to play in keeping society moving and living their healthiest and best so we will continue to push forward and innovate during this crisis.

Reid: We believe that weddings, graduations, and birthdays still need and deserve to be celebrated. Funerals and life altering occasions should be honored. Fundraisers and other philanthropic events are critical to the functioning of non-profits. Therefore, we transformed our business model to produce virtual events by partnering with other firms that provide the technical support required for us to execute innovative service. Because of the necessary technical aspects of virtual events, we take the time to educate our clients on the importance of using expert virtual services. Many of them believe that they can conduct their own events by simply using a virtual meeting platform and expect to have the same outcome, which is rarely the case. Our goal is to make the experience seamless for them. Our customized approach has proven to be a welcome relief to our clients. They tell us that we've made a positive difference for them and their and guests and that their anxiety levels are lower after the event than prior.  As creatives, we have had to dig deeper to provide our clients with creative, warm, and memorable options. As Julia Child once said and we firmly believe, "A party without cake is just a meeting!" 

Planning for the Future

Stern: Chaia is defined by our resilience, as well as our ability to survive in the midst of chaos. We will continue to think creatively and to contribute positively to our community and our team members. We think it is important to continue engaging in our communities as active team players who are willing to put in the time, effort and hard work to achieve positive results for all. At Chaia, we want to think big, be bold, and take risks while working collaboratively in our neighborhoods to create significant positive impact where we live and work.

Gilbert: This global health pandemic has been challenging. Yet, we have seen many signs of resiliency that give us hope. Patients are more willing than ever to explore digital options. Providers are checking in more consistently with their patients, supporting them through times both good times and challenging times. Moving forward, we will lean into the strength of our community to continue innovating and taking great care of each other. Patients will continue to see increased safety measures to ensure they feel as safe and inspired as ever; providers will have more resources at their disposal and stronger communication within our team. Physical therapy has an important role to play in keeping society moving and living their healthiest and best so we will continue to push forward and innovate during this crisis.

Reid: We are constantly on the lookout for new ways to deliver quality to our clients, from adopting innovative and seamless technology solutions, to partnering with other companies. We realize that this Covid-19 pandemic has long term health, social, and economic implications for all. As such, we are working toward permanent adoption of new internal processes and adjusting our business model to include optimal solutions for virtual events. We are confident that we can continue to be a leader in the event industry. We also regularly participate in distance learning to keep abreast of the global changes to our industry. We are experiencing this blow as a collective, so we are consulting with our partners and clients to help them pivot creatively to keep their businesses and organizations afloat. This is not a time to be focused solely on our bottom line. We feel that providing essential (and free) guidance to our non-profit clients and industry partners will serve us all in the long run

Surprise Silver Linings

Stern: Our staff has been amazing—which while not surprising—has certainly been welcome. We've also been heartened by the amazing support of our community and customers. It has been our customers and our neighbors who scrambled to help our restaurants and our employees survive this crisis. We are deeply grateful to each and every one of them for supporting us.

Gilbert: Surprisingly, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of applications from therapists who want to join our team. As many physical therapists were furloughed, laid off, or removed themselves from traditional clinics, they seek to become part of the MovementX community. This has enabled us to actually grow our business and service offerings.

Reid: One of the most surprising things we discovered was that virtual event production can yield a lower overhead cost, which translates into a potential greater profit margin when compared to in-person events. Additionally, virtual platforms have a much broader reach, which means greater positive impact for our corporate and non -profit clients for whom high returns are critical to the success of the event.

Lessons Learned

Stern: It's all about leadership and community connection. Authentically support the community. Stay essential and relevant. Go above and beyond in taking care of your team. Lead with heart. Lead by example from the very top. We work alongside our front of house and back of house staff every day to keep morale up and to keep them employed so that they are able to support their own families. Look to the future and help team members weather this storm.

Gilbert: No one plans for moments like these. We thought we were a recession proof industry, that regardless of the circumstances, people would need physical therapy. Since our profession tops the lists of in-demand jobs in the next 10 years – we never imagined this scenario. We were surprised by how deeply impacted the physical therapy industry has been. Resilient businesses and leaders are shining right now, and we want to be part of that light. Early on, we made the choice to be proactive and create our own future; we made the choice to be the author of our own story. At our core we are a company founded to serve and help people. We kept that focus as our guiding light, before and during this pandemic, and it has allowed us to grow into the resilient business we are today.

Reid: We quickly learned that a successful virtual event requires seamless organization and extremely rich content, because guests tire and are more easily distracted in one-dimensional virtual settings. This shutdown has provided more opportunities for us to be nimble and more deeply connected with our service partners. There is a tremendous economic collapse when an event is cancelled, creating devastating ripple effects for venues, staff, rental companies, caterers, photographers, audio visual companies, florists, bakeries, entertainment professionals and artists, etc. It is difficult to see our fellow business owners struggling so we strive to find unique ways to support these partners as well as our clients wherever possible. We love to delight our most loyal and treasured clients and partners with surprise floral, food, balloons, gifts, specialty baked goods and even highly sought-after medical masks, disposable gloves, and toilet paper deliveries.

Our infinite goal is to stay connected and keep the people we work with and for inspired and uplifted during this unprecedented crisis.

After all, 'the show must go on.'

Following the CARES ACT Money: Why Some Small Businesses See Little to No Relief - NBC Bay Area

Posted: 21 May 2020 06:16 AM PDT

Since March, in four separate pieces of congressionally approved legislation including the CARES Act, the federal government has spent more than $810 billion backing small business loans to help retailers, restaurants, and local shops cover their expenses and keep workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the unprecedented spending, several local business owners tell the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit that those federal dollars have yet to find their way to those who need it the most.

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) oversees the processing of U.S. government backed loans. But the SBA has yet to provide a full list of recipients to the public. So NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit began digging through SEC filings. The Unit searched through hundreds of corporate regulatory documents and found more than 80 public companies based in California that reported receiving more than $200 million in small business loans.

Recipients of SBA money include software companies, chain restaurants, an investment group that owns more than a half dozen boutique wineries, a memorabilia authenticator and the owner of a peer to peer lending app employing more 400 workers.

HAVES AND HAVE NOTS

"(Big Companies) are getting it easy. They have a team that they can put together to handle all the (paperwork) and everything, so they can get that money very easily as opposed to us," said Alameda-based small business owner David Molenberg.

For three years, Molenberg worked to build his corporate food service WowCater. The web-based caterer matches food kitchens with high tech corporate offices looking for a good meal.

Before the pandemic, Molenberg says the company roughly doubled its revenue every year. But after health officials shut down all nonessential office buildings, Molenberg says he's struggled to stay afloat. He used to employ anywhere from 12 to 15 drivers at one time. Now he can barely keep a handful of drivers working.

"Overnight, all our orders completely have evaporated, it seemed, because everybody's working from home nowadays," said Molenberg. "One of the unfortunate things is that as an office caterer, I'm only allowed to keep my employees busy for a couple hours per day."

In March, Molenberg applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan (PPP) online. But he says his application was rejected without explanation. Last week, Molenberg reapplied and was approved for $1,200. But he says that's still not enough financial backing to keep his dozen or so delivery workers employed.

"I need to keep my drivers paid," Molenberg said. "I think it needs to be a lot more organized. Things are a mess."

Real estate agent Shadi Alkhudari agrees. Alkhuadari says his East Bay business was also devastated by COVID-19. 

"We weren't able to have any open houses, weren't able to show any houses," Alkhudari said. "It almost crippled our business."

Alkhudari applied for a $30,000  Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through the SBA to cover his mortgage payments plus business expenses. After two months, Alkhudari says his loan was finally approved for $1,000, far less than what he requested and needs.

To make matters worse, Alkhudari says the rules state he would have had to pay back the $1,000 loan over 30 years.

"I thought it was a mistake, I thought the loan officer missed a zero or two or three," Alkhudari said. "I had to decline it and give it back to them. Looking at how other corporations are getting millions, even though they don't need it. . . And this is called Small Business Administration, it was a little pathetic."

"I feel it's a broken system, it's not meant to be (for businesses like mine).  Even though it's called (the) 'Small Business Administration,' it's not meant to be for small businesses," Alkhudari said.

When NBC Bay Area examined Securities and Exchange Commission filings the I-Unit found those records show that some corporations decided to give the SBA money back and explore other options when those companies realized they were competing with even smaller businesses for the federal relief funds. 

SBA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

"Right now, there's no backlog for PPP applications. At the beginning (of the process) what happened is that banks had to learn how to process all these applications," SBA spokeswoman Miryam Barajas told NBC Bay Area. "The communities depend on these mom and pop shops to stay open."

Barajas says her district office in Sacramento is working around the clock to process PPP loans, which covers payroll for 8 weeks, as well as processing applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which covers a company's other business expenses.

When asked if the SBA could have handled the distribution of federal CARES Act money better from the start, Barajas said the need and the demand was unprecedented and the agency did the best it could.

"With the first CARES Act, within the first 14 days, we gave out (in dollar amounts) what we normally give out in 14 years. We're the smallest agency in the federal government" Barajas said. "There's still money there. If you struggled with us in the beginning and didn't apply, don't wait now, there's still money there."

However, Barajas acknowledges that businesses applying for an EIDL advance are still in for a wait.  

"EIDL loans, we're trying to catch up with those loans as quickly as possible. I know we are working 24/7 to process them and those are the loans that are going to pay some of the expenses that are not covered by PPP so we're asking (business owners) be patient," Barajas said.

HELP IS ON THE WAY

Meanwhile, state and local agencies in California are working to fill the void left by the federal bureaucracy and provide aid for those companies left out by the rules of the CARES Act.

Emily Burgos with the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) manages the state's small business disaster loan guarantee program. So far IBank has backed $3 million in loans to California companies.

"We are really trying to capture folks that absolutely cannot access the SBA (loans)," Burgos said.

While most business owners have never heard of IBank, Burgos says she's working to spread the word and anticipates the agency will be able to back $100,000,000 million in loans to 2,000 small businesses.

"I am expecting huge numbers throughout the summer. And a large increase in participating lenders coming very soon." 

[[links to local small business loan programs]]

Any meaningful financial assistance can't come soon enough for small business owners such as Shadi Alkhudari and David Molenberg.

"It feels like we've been left in the dust and that's the unfortunate thing about it, that small businesses are the foundation of this country. Most business in America is small business," said Molenberg. "It's frustrating."

"When you need the emergency fund, you need it now. You don't need it after, you know, the emergency is over." Alkhudari said. "I really don't need (financial help) next year, because that's when, you know, everything will be done. It's either (with my business) I'm going to survive or I'm going to die. It's a it's a swim or sink kind of situation."

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit, give us a call at 1-888-996-8477, or you can reach us via email at TheUnit@nbcbayarea.com

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