ORLANDO, Fla. — Countless small business owners in Central Florida are struggling without a lifeline, now that the Paycheck Protection Program is out of funding.

  • Paycheck Protection Program reached $349B limit Thursday
  • 1.7 million forgivable loans given
  • Pres. Trump pushing for another $250B in loans

The CARES Act program reached its $349 billion lending limit Thursday, after the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved nearly 1.7 million in forgivable loans. The loans, essentially grants if the spending guidelines are followed, allow businesses to maintain payroll and pay rent amid social distancing edicts.

Andrea and Markus Zimmerman had been banking on that loan to stay afloat. They own The Cloak & Blaster, a gaming pub in Orlando.

“We don’t really have a Plan B,” Andrea explained. “This is our plan and we’ve been doing it for six years and it’s been great. Didn’t really expect the pandemic to happen in the middle of having a board game restaurant.”

They still have 11 part-time employees working, running take-out and selling new board games. They even started selling games online to make some additional revenue.

“Retail is saving our behinds right now, along with as much to-go and carryout food as we can,” Andrea said.

The Zimmerman’s partner with third-party apps to offer delivery services, but say those services take a 30 percent commission. “The problem is that we’ve seen a lot of our carry-out business transition to delivery and so that means even more commission taken out as a whole,” she explained. 

“We can’t really raise our prices online because everyone’s competing for business, and so you’re seeing your margin slowly go down and go down and tighten and tighten.”

But some small businesses in Florida are getting much-needed help.

The Reading Corner, a Tampa-based preschool service, was approved a $75,850 loan through the paycheck protection program and a $50,000 emergency bridge loan through the state. Only 3% of businesses that applied received a bridge loan.

Co-owner Andy Green is relieved. The Reading Corner chose not to charge tuition in April due to the stay-at-home order, resulting in a roughly $50,000 loss, according to Green. 

“We were getting pretty low in our bank account,” he explained. “Cash flow is king and when your cash flow starts getting below that mark where it’s dangerously low, you start to have some sleepless nights and I definitely was having that.”

President Donald Trump has pushed Congress to pump $250 billion more into the Paycheck Protection Program. Lawmakers are going back and forth over the terms.