PRESCOTT, AZ (3 On Your Side) - Sheri Shaw's customers are back and she's grateful.

"I love them dearly," she said. "We have customers that have become family here."

It's been a long year for the Back Alley Wine Bar in Prescott. The business was shut down for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and when it reopened, COVID-19 restrictions limited capacity.

"It's been very tough," Shaw said. "People don't realize it's not just a loss of income. It costs thousands of dollars per month just to keep your business sitting closed."

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Shaw applied for a loan through the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program in January. The forgivable loan program has been a lifeline for millions of businesses across the country during the pandemic. Shaw went through Newtek, a company she found online, for her loan.

"They said I was approved for $8,800," Shaw said.

Then she waited. Other business owners received their money. Shaw kept waiting and kept calling.

"They'd say, 'Be patient. Check back next week. We're really slammed. It's been really difficult,'" Shaw recalled. "I literally get the runaround. I get no answer."

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved nearly 10 million PPP loans worth $762 billion since the program launched, according to SBA data. The loans can be forgiven if the money is used for expenses like payroll, benefits, rent, and utilities.

"I'm afraid it's going to run out of money before I get mine," Shaw said.

3 On Your Side contacted Newtek on Shaw's behalf. The company did not respond to questions, but days after we reached out, Shaw received an email about her successful loan.

"Congratulations," the email reads. "Your loan is now closed and has been sent to funding."

A spokesperson for the SBA said the agency does not comment on individual loans but encouraged business owners to use its lender match tool to find a lender that fits their needs. The Paycheck Protection Program ends on May 31 or when the fund is exhausted.

Back in the Back Alley Wine Bar, the music is going, the wine is flowing, and Shaw's PPP funding is finally in her account.

"I'm feeling pretty positive about the future," she said. "We're going to make it through."

 

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