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Central Florida small business owners compete for limited money to help workers

President Trump said there could be another economic stimulus bill to help

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Many Central Florida small business owners say they’re facing an uphill climb when it comes to applying for federal loans to help keep their employees paid.

“The hospitality and service industry is really going to take a hit here,” said Michael Zarrella, owner of Zarella’s Woodfired Pizza in Cape Canaveral and Little Z’s in Cocoa Beach.

He said his businesses used to have a staff of 46 people, but it's now reduced to a skeleton crew, who take take-out and delivery orders.

“The first couple days of March, it was business as usual. Then, it just absolutely took a nosedive,” he said.

He said he and his remaining staff are working hard to barely keep their head above water.

“We’re trying to apply for everything right now, honestly. We’re just kind of taking shots in the dark,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation. A lot of people saying that there’s this loan, there’s that loan, there’s this loan. We’re taking it day-by-day.”

Zarrella said he wants to apply for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan that could be forgiven if he keeps his workers, but the funds are quickly running out.

“From one location to the other, there’s probably over $1 million in restaurateurs that I know personally that they are applying for this, and that’s in a two-mile radius,” he said.

To add to the competition he’s facing, Wells Fargo announced on Monday it was no longer accepting applications for the program after maxing out the $10 billion it said it was going to loan out.

Chase and other banks began taking applications on Monday.

President Trump said there could be another economic stimulus bill to help.

"The entire world closed down because of this hidden enemy. We are going to take good care of our people. It was not their fault," he said.

On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announced the state would not be collecting taxes on any of the relief loans.


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