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Small business owners hope to secure PPP loans

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    ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Another round of loans is available for small businesses that are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As soon as I heard that there was going to be another round, I definitely notified my bank and said, ‘put me on the list,’ Hazel Twenty owner Lexi DiYeso said.

She was one of hundreds of local business owners to receive financial relief at the start of the pandemic.

Her business received about $20,000 last summer. She said the money was used to keep employees on the clock and make improvements to the online store.

“It was good,” DiYeso said. “It sustained us through the summer.”

Applications for First Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans opened Monday.

A Mountain BizWorks spokesperson said they hope to re-launch the PPP Lending Program process next Monday.

“This is a totally revamped round of funding for local and small businesses,” Corey Atkins, with the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, said.

He said those who received PPP funds in the past are eligible for the second round.

Those who qualify can use the funds for expenses like payroll, utilities and operational costs used to keep people safe.

“As you can see, we have the pews marked,” Groce Funeral Home manager Scott Groce said.

He said business has increased during the pandemic. Groce said the funeral home has served about 75 more families this year than last.

Groce said the struggle has been adapting to continuously changing restrictions and costs associated with sanitation.

“The actual PPE that our staff uses when they are going to help families who someone has passed away form COVID, those are all expenses we were not ready for,” Groce said.

DiYeso said the loans are coming at a good time, considering business typically slows during the winter months.

“Winter is notoriously a slower time in retail and especially throw on a pandemic, we are all a little nervous,” DiYeso said.

The chamber of commerce will be holding a virtual town hall meeting Thursday to answer questions about the PPP loans.

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