SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – You might not think a couple hundred dollars could make or break a business, but it could for scores of really small Utah businesses that may not realize help is available.
Robbie Preece owns and runs Salt City Rollers Segway Tours. For five years now, he has taken people in, around and above Salt Lake City to see its historic and natural wonders on Segway scooters.
“It was on a really cool trajectory,” said Preece. “Business was growing on average, about 30% to 40% every season.”
But when COVID-19 rolled into town, Salt City Rollers got hit hard.
“Yeah, business took a significant reduction,” Preece explained. “I think about by two months ago, I think my business bank account had something like $28 in it. That’s tough.”
Preece thought he had zero chance of getting a Paycheck Protection Program loan to keep Salt City Rollers, well, rolling. After all, he is a sole proprietor. It is just him, there’s no one on his payroll.
But then he got word about the nonprofit lender, MoFi, so he applied for a PPP loan through them.
“Within a week I was approved,” Preece said. “And I’m not going to say that I don’t have any worries at all now. But, it’s just a massive weight off my shoulders.”
“One of the things that we are trying to do is make sure that every small business that needs or wants a PPP has access,” explained MoFi’s president and CEO Dave Glaser.
Founded in 1986, MoFi is a community development financial institution based in Montana that specializes in loans for small businesses. It’s now offering PPP loans up to $250,000 across several western states, including Utah. Those loans are going out to even the tiniest of small businesses.
“The smallest PPP loan that we’ve made in Utah thus far is $390,” said Glaser.
The largest loan is considerably larger at $26,000, while the average stands at $16,000.
“It’s so important that all these small businesses realize that they’re eligible because this is something that is going to help them get to the other side and not have to pay back,” Glazer explained.
After a handful of huge companies snatched up a big portion of the PPP money set aside last year, President Joe Biden wants to make sure some of it makes it to small businesses.
“America’s small businesses are hurting and they’re hurting badly, and they need help now,” Biden said on Monday as he announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to help those businesses.
On Wednesday, his administration made PPP loans available only to small businesses with fewer than 20 staffers for 14 days. Eligible businesses include one-person shops like Salt City Rollers Segway Tours.
“It’s actually incredibly motivating for a promising future,” said Preece.
Glaser said that so long as a business owner uses the PPP loan by the rules, it is 100% forgivable. The exclusive window for small businesses and sole proprietorships to apply for PPP loans closes March 10. The deadline for all PPP applications is March 31.