Rep. Sharice Davids meets with small business owners

MISSION, Kan. — More than $13 billion went to businesses in Kansas and Missouri for COVID-19 assistance last year, according to the Small Business Administration.

On Tuesday, Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids met with small business owners like Jennifer Pugh in Mission, Kansas, to see how they’re doing now.

“When you’re seen, you’re heard,” Jennifer Pugh, owner of Lulu’s Boutique said.

Pugh explained how federal money helped her during the pandemic and the challenges she now faces.

“It has been a little bit of a train wreck, but we are doing better,” Pugh said.

Pugh has owned Lulu’s Boutique for four years. In 2020, she applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan or EIDL. She got around $30,000.

“Instead of doing the hustle and then still worrying every month about are we going to make it, even when I’m working my fingers to the bone, it gave us that little bit of a padding,” Pugh said.

Just down the block from her on Johnson Drive, it’s been a similar situation for Isael Andrade who owns Estrella Azul. He opened the restaurant in the middle of the pandemic.

KSHB 41 I-Team Reporter Cameron Taylor asked if more relief is needed.

“Yes, absolutely. We just need more help,” Andrade said.

He said it’s been difficult finding workers and prices on supplies have skyrocketed.

“Last year, we paid like for example, a case of onions, it was $11. Now it’s $38,” Andrade said.

In April, the House passed the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022.

$55 billion would go toward small businesses through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The bill would also create a new program for hard-hit industries.

“Getting more support into that is something that I would like to see the Senate move on,” Davids said.

Davids sits on the House Small Business Committee. While previous federal relief helped, she said more work needs to be done.

“Seeing in hindsight just how long it took for folks to be able to access that relief is something that we need to work on,” Davids said.

Business owners like Pugh hope the roller-coaster they’ve been on will stabilize soon.

“It’s just this really kind of weird roller-coaster and I don’t know if there’s an end in sight really,” Pugh said.

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