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Hampton Roads businesses can start applying for new PPP loans

Some restaurant owners are afraid a second loan won’t keep them afloat. Friday was last call at Humboldt Steel Corporation in Portsmouth.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — As the pandemic drags on, a second loan-lifeline for small businesses is coming soon. The Small Business Administration reopened its “Paycheck Protection Program" this week.

Lenders and borrowers can apply right now until March 31, but there are some restrictions. 

Some restaurant owners are afraid a second loan won’t keep them afloat. Friday was last call at Humboldt Steel Corporation in Portsmouth.  

“We could continue to stay open right now, but at what cost?” said owner Christopher Bowman. 

Bowman said COVID-19 restrictions forced his hand to close the doors.  

“Without the bar and 6-foot distancing, we only have three tables,” Bowman said. "How can I survive on three tables?"

He said a second round of PPP loans would only bail him out.  

“$65,000 is what we would be eligible for in PPP, but when we get out of the hole, there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” Bowman said. “We just end up going back into debt.”  

Sloppy Seconds Bar and Grill in Virginia Beach is facing a similar fate. Owner Jenell Bohny posted to Facebook this week saying they need the community’s support more than ever. 

“I had to fall on my pride when I made that post,” Bobby said. “But, I just knew if I didn’t reach out for help, we might not last much longer.”

Bohny said PPP will help, but she’s skeptical.

“Once that money runs out you are still in the same predicament that you are right now,” Bohny said.

Jim Carroll, Executive Director of the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, said there are changes for second-time applicants.  

“They have to speak to their bankers immediately and find out what they are going to be doing,” Carroll said. 

People applying for a second loan must have 300 employees or less, show they had a 25 percent drop in quarterly revenue during the pandemic and they could receive up to $2 million. 

“Some businesses are doing remarkably well and there are others that have had to shutter their doors,” Carroll said. 

First-time borrowers can have 500 employees or less, getting up to $10 million. 

Bowman said he will retrain employees for his tattoo business. He said another bar owner is interested and hopes they can keep Humboldt alive.  

“Olde Towne needs places like Humboldt,” Bowman said.