Conway small business will reopen on ‘a wing and a prayer’ waiting for phase two of funding

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Conway’s Main Street is quiet these days. Still closed due to COVID-19, some small businesses wonder how they’ll reopen when the time comes.

“The storefront is just, doesn’t have any hope at this point,” said Rivertown Boutique owner Michelle Buffkin. “We will be opening literally on a wing and a prayer,” said Thistle & Clover Women’s Western Boutique owner Karen Young.

Young says her store was a gift from God. “He led me to this little small business. I bought it off of the two women that had it previously, and we have thrived.”

Now, business isn’t thriving, and she’s applied for one of two funding options for small business owners, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). She’s hoping to reopen her boutique on May 5.

The loan gives businesses an up to $10,000 cash advance grant, then two weeks following, the business owner’s loan application should be processed. The grant does not need to be paid back.

The EIDL, not forgivable, is offered at up to $2 million for 30 years, at a 3.75% interest rate, according to Gregg White, the South Carolina Regional Director for the United States Small Business Administration.

“Florence, Georgetown, Aynor, Loris, Tabor City, I’m sure all of those little towns are struggling just as bad as we are,” she said.

Because she doesn’t get a paycheck and invests her money back into her store, she’s not eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

The PPP loan would offer up to $10 million dollars at a 1% interest rate for 2 years, according to White.

The first phase of funding has been distributed, but the second phase, being handed out now, will total nearly $370 billion – $310 billion in PPP funding and $60 billion in EIDL funding.

As of Tuesday afternoon, White says 476,000 loans have been processed to begin distribution of phase two of the funding.

“The good thing that I’m excited about is this time, the loans mainly went to the smaller lenders and small banks,” said White.

With a focus on small businesses, he says the U.S. Treasury has issued directives recently saying they’ll review any loan that’s over $2 million for compliance, meaning if you don’t really need the money, there’s a requirement that says you won’t get it.

Store owner Michelle Buffkin says she’ll close her doors next month because of the pandemic’s impact.

“We’ve got to put in new inventory since we’ve been shut down for so many months, we’ve had spring apparel, now we need summer apparel,” she said. “You still have your overheads, your rent that needs to be paid, all the things.”

If small business owners apply for the PPP loan, White tells News13 there’s a 100% SBA guarantee that the loan can be forgiven or paid back.

To apply for the EIDL loan and $10,000 grant, click here. To apply for the PPP loan, click here.

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