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COVID-19 relief package brings hope to small Utah businesses struggling to survive

Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 28, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — In the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the Himalayan Kitchen has been serving food for 16 years. Business was growing an average of 10-15 percent each year, owner Surya Bastakoti said. Now, there are two locations and Bastakoti owns a bar and banquet hall as well. Unfortunately, this year has been extremely difficult with sales down about 60 percent.

“In the last week, we sat down with my family, and it has been so hard. We might go out of business,” he said.

The harsh reality that the restaurant may have to close is difficult for Bastakoti. Through tears, he expressed that he feels no one is helping small businesses like his. Rent, insurance and bills continue to come, but the restaurant, like many right now, is unable to be profitable.

“The reality is like your roof is falling and you are standing looking and there is nothing to hold,” he said.

The COVID-19 vaccine beginning to be rolled out in Utah has provided some hope, Bastakoti said. News of another round of paycheck protection plan loans coming is allowing Bastakoti to hopefully keep his doors open.

“I think this new stimulus plan, the PPP will help, but I don’t know how long it will help,” he said.

Leaders across the state of Utah are working to help Utahns navigate the new federal COVID-19 relief package — including the executive director of the Suazo Business Center, Silvia Castro, and the director of business development for the World Trade Center Utah, Jim Porter.

“We need to be much more proactive this time around that companies and individuals who weren’t able to take advantage of PPP loans last time who desperately need it can,” Porter said.

The goal is to ensure everyone who is eligible to apply for a PPP loan does this time around, Castro said. Also, many people who applied for it last time around will need to apply again as that money has run out.

“One of our biggest concerns is we saw a lot of contractors, like people who have 10-99 employees, sole proprietors, a lot of people did not think they would qualify — they do,” she said.

Hopefully, through education, people in multi-cultural communities and other communities who weren’t informed about the PPP loans last time around will have that opportunity now, Porter said. This will have a major impact.

“We realized that there were a number of different communities who weren’t getting it,” he said.

For more information on resources available to small businesses and individuals, click here.