RVA business owners react to COVID-19 relief package

Posted at 12:15 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 12:31:21-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- As millions of Americans lost their unemployment benefits over the weekend, President Trump signed a second coronavirus stimulus bill into law to help the struggling economy.

The bill is set to provide millions of Americans with direct payments of $600, as well as return those unemployment benefits, and provide lending for small businesses and additional PPP loans.

As the sun rose in Church Hill, Brian Colegrove, Owner of Riverbend Coffee Co, awoke to the news.

"That’s great. That’s great for all the businesses that do need it," said Colegrove.

However, Colgrove, said his business wasn't in need, and considered them 'lucky.'

"Around February or March it was slowing down pretty bad. It was getting kind of scary," said Colgrove. "By April, May we just stayed open. So, now we’re about double what we were when we started."

Colgrove said since so many people live in the Church Hill area and are at home -- he believed that's helped their business throughout the pandemic.

But just a few miles away in Carytown, it's a different story for Tommy Autry, Owner of Tommy's Garden.

"It's just been very stressful," said Autry. "Normally December is our biggest month of the year, and we were down -- probably 60% of our business is gone for the month of the December... when you lose all those big-ticket weddings and parties, it really does hurt the pocket."

Autry said he's watched as businesses surrounding him have had an even tougher time.

"You can see a lot of businesses in Carytown have shut down completely," Autry said.

He said the first PPP loan they received helped them stay open, and was hopeful with this new stimulus package, a second loan would do the same.

"We were able to bring back two employees. It was great. It helped us pay rent, utilities, and cover our payroll," Autry said.

Brian Anderson, President and CEO of Chamber RVA, said the new bill wasn't perfect, but a step.

"We would certainly like more, but given what it had in it, it was better than nothing. And hopefully would mean there’d be further action as we continue to deal with this," said Anderson. "Most experts agree that even with the vaccine beginning to roll out we have many more months of economic instability so we need all the help we can do for businesses who are just trying to hang on."

Anderson recommended business owners look at the SBA website to learn more about next steps.

Later Monday, the House was expected to vote on whether to increase those direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.