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Small businesses across Western New York hoping for relief

The $2 trillion stimulus package, also known as the CARES act, will provide aid to small businesses. Anyone who has less than 500 employees is eligible to apply.

LANCASTER, N.Y. — For Kevin McGowan, owning his Al-E-Oops restaurant in Lancaster over the last 35 years has felt a lot more like being in a theme park.  

"I've rode the roller-coaster rides before with ups and downs in businesses. This, however, is to use the words everyone is using, unlike anything we have seen before," McGowan said. 

McGowan has had to reduce his staff and the restaurant is only open four days a week for takeout or delivery. 

He says Al-E-Oops is staying afloat with the help of the everyone placing orders. 

But it doesn't mean he's not thinking about the future.

"If there's a stimulus package coming down the pipe, I have my accountant applying for that. I'd like to see what that's all about. For the length of time that this will go on, we don't know," McGowan said.

Over at Depew's Hyperion Tattoo, an employee tells 2 On Your Side owner Steve Christman is also looking into different ways he can apply for assistance. 

"Maybe we can all split it somehow or if he can divvy it up somehow, I'm not sure how that will work," tattoo artist Amanda Kociszewski said.

Last week President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package, also known as the CARES act, to provide aid to small businesses. Anyone who has less than 500 employees is eligible to apply.

The loans will come through the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and will be converted into grants if all requirements are met.

"In the case that they've already had to layoff their teams, the stimulus would through the paycheck protection program would be helpful in helping to retain some of their workforce," said Kristina Groff, CEO/president of the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce. 

Groff says small business owners can also apply for assistance through the SBA's industry disaster loan program. She says it’s important that people know the applications are different for the two. 

“That’s the biggest point of confusion that we’ve begun to see is if I apply for one relief and one loan package, what does that do to my eligibility for the other," Groff said. 

She says small business owners should contact small business development centers and local representatives who can help navigate the process. 

The Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce also has a list of resources on their COVID-19 page. 

In the meantime, McGowan encourages everyone to continue supporting their favorite small businesses. 

"If we all do that and you add it up in the masses, it's going to be enough for everybody to spread around and pay the bills and stay alive," he said. 

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