Book Buyers' Lee Rathers, one of many NC small business owners who was waiting for federal relief. (Photo by Patrick Moran) Is the Trump administration's small business loan program too little, too late?
Book Buyers' Lee Rathers, one of many NC small business owners who was waiting for federal relief. (Photo by Patrick Moran)

New report asks if it is too little, too late for NC businesses gouged by coronavirus.

The federal government has approved more than $2 billion in small business loans for North Carolina business owners in the latest round of COVID-19 relief, but a new report questions whether the new injection of Trump administration cash will be enough. 

“A lot of (businesses) will not survive,” Gregg Thompson, NC’s state director at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, told WNCN-TV this week. “A lot of the restaurants will not survive. Just driving around sometimes you can see stores they’ve already closed up because they just couldn’t survive.”

Cardinal & Pine reported in April on NC small business owners’ struggles to benefit from the first round of loans. Several businesses said the loan process from the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIC) was either too slow or unresponsive. Some expressed frustration that the PPP was out of just as outlets reported that loans had gone to large corporations instead of small businesses.

This week, Thompson acknowledged that loans to North Carolina small businesses fell short in the initial distribution rounds.

“For…the 10th most populous state with over 900,000 small businesses, it should have been much higher in the first round,” he told WNCN. 

If the loans were too slow in the first place, the new wave of payments may come too late now, Thompson added.

The program’s struggles are likely to be a key talking point in this fall’s election.

Citing U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s refusal to disclose which businesses were receiving loans, North Carolina Democratic Party spokesperson Austin Cook blamed the Trump Administration for loans never getting to the types of businesses the PPP and the EIC were designed to help.

PPP is clearly not providing the relief that North Carolina’s small business owners need now, Cook said.

“The Trump administration’s mismanagement of this initiative is directly shuttering more businesses and costing our state thousands of jobs. The fact that large firms with ties to the administration have received millions of dollars is just more evidence of the president’s refusal to look out for North Carolina families in a time of crisis.”