Washington small businesses rush to federal stimulus aid

SEATTLE – Business after business around Seattle have been boarded up with plywood after Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order forced many to close or rethink strategies.

Small business owners across the region began signing up for a federal relief program that went online Friday.

Streets across the Emerald City are nearly empty but some businesses remain open like Piroshki Piroshki Bakery.

“That’s our new normal,” said owner Olga Sagan. “Deliveries.”

Sagan says she has been in business for nearly three decades and multiple stores.

“I think to apply for it just for good measure, but I have my concerns and my doubts,” she said about stimulus program.

She says business is down more than 80-percent, but besides her doubts, she will sign up for federal help.

“The process is complicated and not a lot of banks are ready,” she complained.

Many small businesses don’t have the option to re-imagine their model, businesses like the neighborhood bar called Changes in Wallingford. It’s now living the new reality shared by its own name.

“The bar here has no income,” said owner Floyd McIsaac. “The bills are coming up soon.”

Changes is typically packed most evenings, but no more. McIsaac opened 31-years ago, saying the bar is more than a hangout, it’s a community space where he has supported amateur sports leagues among other outreach efforts.

Today, none of his employees are getting paid so he is signing up for federal help.

“The unemployment they’re receiving is really not a lot of money to compensate them for what they’re losing,” he said.

In a town where nothing looks or feels like it used to, small business owners are praying federal stimulus will help keep them afloat and their employees paid.

“I believe once we get past where we’re at right now, I believe things will not be back to normal but pretty close to I hope,” he said.

The Small Business Administration that operates the program says it has already processed thousands of applications but warn there could be a bottleneck in the immediate future as there are likely millions more to apply.