SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Help has arrived for thousands of the smallest of small businesses here in San Diego and throughout the nation.
The federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was widely criticized when it was launched last year, awarding millions to larger companies but often ignoring mom-and-pop operations hit hard by the pandemic.
Presdent Joe Biden acknowledged that earlier this week.
He said that when the PPP first passed, a lot of mom-and-pop businesses got "muscled out of the way," and he is now working to change that.
This is welcome news for small business owners like San Diegan Skai Thong, owner of 'Nailstalgic' in Grantville, which was forced to shut down - and re-open - twice over the past year because of the pandemic.
"I poured my life savings in to this thing. I can't just walk away," Thong told News 8 "I am holding on by the skin of my teeth."
Thong applied -- unsuccessfully -- for the first round of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, which was originally open to businesses with 500 or fewer employees.
But thong says it is the *real* small businesses have been too often overlooked during the COVID crisis.
"Everybody has known from the very beginning that small businesses were the ones that needed the most help," Thong added.
But now, new help for small businesses like Thong's is here.
Beginning Wednesday (Feb. 24), the federal government's Small Business Administration is opening a 14-day application period exclusively for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
"The Small Business Administration will also remove barriers that have stopped many businesses from being able to apply for these loans," President Biden said.
These include a student loan default or a non-fraud-related criminal record, as well as making it easier for small business owners who are not U.S. citizens but documented residents to also access PPP loans.
"These changes will bring much-needed, long overdue to help to small businesses who really need help staying open." Biden added.
This comes the same week that Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new 'Golden State Stimulus' package, which has set $2 billion aside to help the state's small businesses.
"California is not going to leave you behind," Newsom said as he signed the bill into law on Tuesday,
This statewide assistance will provide grants to small businesses ranging from $5000 to $25,000, with priority given to businesses owned by women and minorities.
"And I'll remind you, grants., not loans," Newsom added, "a profoundly important distinction."
<"I'm hopeful, and I am remaining positive," Skai Thong said, adding that she plans to apply for all the help she can as she struggles to keep her doors open. "I am not willing to give up. I'm going to fight!"
For more information on applying for these PPP funds for small businesses, click here.