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Small business owners face barriers in applying for government loans

"We’re being stonewalled from that loan."
Posted at 12:27 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 00:27:01-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Jimmy Comer is the co-owner of RBI Services in Hanover County.

“Our focus is helping small businesses with their needs whether it’s insurance, accounting, HR services," Comer said.

But Comer believes his company’s future appears out focus at the moment.

"So we’re like a lot of small businesses, we’re not sure what the future looks like," Comer said. “The Governor's assured us that there will be help from the state but I’ve got some concerns right now.”

As the number of COVID-19 cases began growing in the Commonwealth,Comer began preparing for the potential economic impacts. He said he tried to apply for a small business loan through the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.

“One of the requirements was that we needed to go through counseling," Comer said. “They said they’re two counselors in the state. One in Northern Virginia and one’s in Farmville.”

Comer said his request for help was denied by the Farmville counselor because his business is in Richmond, not Farmville.

He’s concerned because there is no counselor in Richmond.

“Without the counseling you’re not meeting the requirement for the loan and we’re being stonewalled from that loan," Comer said.

“It’s just getting tough for small businesses right now, we know that we hear from them daily," Barry Moore with the Better Business Bureau.
Barry Moore with the Better Business Bureau works with small businesses and said this is a nationwide issue.

"I mean it’s millions passed what they can handle of calls being received. Be patient," Moore said. "Ask your local bank to help you if you cannot get to a counsel."

Comer said he is okay with asking his bank for help but he is worried about other entrepreneurs.

“Do I have confidence in it, yes. But I guess my concern is also I have so many small business clients, I start losing them because they can’t get access to this money, that’s going to be a major problem for us," Moore said.

Lawmakers in Washington are working on a $2 trillion stimulus package that would give small business owners access to federal loans only if they agree to pay their workers through the health crisis.