The pandemic hit just as Adriana Betancourt was opening her new restaurant, Arigatai Sushi, in North Miami.
“It was really tough,” she said. “Unfortunately, we actually had to close the restaurant, which was really sad for my husband and I because we put our hearts and all of our savings in the restaurant.”
It was for that reason Adriana said she turned to the Small Business Administration or SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.
“I applied twice,” she said. “I got denied and I said, no, I can’t believe it, and I reapplied and the second time I was denied.”
According to data released by the US Treasury Department and analyzed by NBC 6 Responds, of the 393,028 loans approved in Florida, 351,606 were for amounts under $150,000 and 41,422 were for loans between $150,000 and up to $10 million.
“I think the Administration, they were very adamant about making sure the majority of the small businesses across the nation received the majority of the funding,” said Victoria Guerrero, a district director for the Small Business Administration. “I think that with the statistics, it has been proven that the goal was met.”
According to the SBA, 96% of the $32 billion in loans received by Florida businesses were used to cover payroll expenses.
“So Florida was able to save 3.2 million jobs because of the PPP program,” Victoria said.
The Braman Automotive Group was one of the 194 Florida businesses that received a PPP loan for between $5 million and $10 million. The company’s president, Norman Braman, said in a statement he “…made several difficult decisions to weather an indefinite storm and preserve the viability of the dealerships.”
In that statement, he explained, “In early March, I reduced all executive compensation by over 95%, and I eliminated my compensation entirely.”
He also said he had to furlough more than 500 people. But he said the PPP funds the company received in April, “…enabled more than 98% of our furloughed employees to be brought back to work within weeks.”
As for Adriana, she was able to reopen and hire help in June without the federal help.
“I think we were only asking for $20,000,” she said. “For us, it would have been a lot of money even though it might seem that it is not.”
The SBA said it still has $131 billion available in PPP loans. If you were denied for one of these loans, the SBA said you should try to find out why your application was not approved. You can also try to apply using a different financial institution. The deadline to apply for a PPP loan was extended until August 8.