TEXAS – It's shaping up to be a make-or-break week for another coronavirus stimulus package – lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to go back and forth on what that relief could look like. While numerous businesses in Texas have been able to open back up, many are still struggling. Even if a deal is passed, some small business owners remain unconvinced they’d get the help they need.
What You Need To Know
- Lawmakers continue to debate second coronavirus stimulus bill
- Small businesses across Texas continue to struggle
- Austin restaurant owners say money from federal program provided limited help
Fowler’s Smokin’ Soul Food in Austin has been back open for business but it hasn’t been business as usual.
"I'd say right now we're running a third of what we were prior to COVID," said owner Kevin Franklin.
Franklin and his wife Yvonne applied for the first round of loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, but, like a lot of mom-and-pop shops, were told the money had run out. They applied for the second round and a check did come, but it wasn’t what they were expecting.
"It was enough to open the doors back and keep us from being put out or the lights turned off, that's all it was enough for, it was literally pennies. [We’re] thankful for it, don't get me wrong, but it was literally pennies," said Yvonne Franklin.
They say it's hard for small businesses to compete with bigger corporations.
"It was the ugliest thing that could ever happen to us because we were already looking around like, ‘What are we going to do? What's going to happen next?’" said Kevin Franklin.
The couple isn’t exactly holding their breath for additional money from the federal government, but they do hope real relief will come. They'd also like to see lawmakers take a different approach.
"If there is a stimulus package of any sort, make it something that will actually help the people who need help. If you need to, start at the bottom and work up," said Kevin Franklin.
They put their life savings into opening the restaurant about two years ago. And like so many Texans struggling right now, they don't want to see their hard work go to waste.
“It's one thing if your business fails on your own accord, but for something as big as this to happen and your business is automatically going down the drain,” Kevin Franklin said, “you're just watching it and for the people who say they're going to help you, just throw change at you, thinking that's going to be enough to get you where you were, it's very insulting."
Talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House over another stimulus package have been ongoing for three months. The big sticking points have been the price tag and where the money would go.