Raleigh business owner hopes to secure loan as Biden administration vows more equitable PPP funding process

In March, Sasha Payne was forced to close her Raleigh dance and fitness studio, My Pink Cherry Cherry Pole Studio, due to new statewide restrictions. In an effort to help stay afloat, she applied for a PPP loan.

"I did everything they asked me to do as far as the paperwork, the LLC, everything that they needed, I got to them. When I got to several different banks, they would always ask for more paperwork," said Payne, who was unable to secure a loan.

The drawn-out process was frustrating and highlighted a key advantage big businesses held during the initial rollout.

"Very large corporations have a litany of lawyers, they have accountants, they have folks all day, every day, working through these formalities," said Dr. Henry McKoy, the Director of Entrepreneurship at NC Central.

Last year, Payne said sales were down 85%, as they were closed for six months. Now reopen, they're spending more on cleaning supplies and safety measures, while unable to serve the same number of clients.

"Before COVID, I would have 20-25 people in a class. Now, I only get eight to nine in a class, so it hurts," said Payne.

Despite a disappointing experience, Payne is hopeful a new vow to focus in equity in current PPP funding could help a business like hers.

Monday, President Joe Biden announced a series of steps his administration was taking to enhance equity.

"These changes will bring much needed long overdue help to small businesses who really need help staying open, maintaining jobs and making ends meet. And this is a starting point, not the ending point," said Biden.

"With the new presidential initiative, we are hoping that our staff of about seven people will be able to get the funding, to be able to put it back into our employees and back into the business just to make Pink Cherry Pole great," said Cotina Parks, the HR Manager for My Pink Cherry Pole Studio.

Beginning Wednesday, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have an exclusive two week window to apply for loans through the Payroll Protection Program.

The President said since the beginning of the pandemic, 400,000 small businesses have closed; Dr. McKoy believes some of those could have been prevented if initial PPP funding was more equitable.

"There are a lot of businesses that just aren't here today that as much as the new administration is trying to address this issue of equity, there's just some businesses where it's too little, too late, or just too late," said Dr. McKoy.

As Payne expressed interest in applying for a PPP loan in this round, she remains optimistic that business will pick up, especially as COVID metrics decrease and vaccinations increase.

"We would love to have people in the community come out and show their support," said Payne.
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