Kansas City small businesses cling to hope for more financial relief

Congress continues to debate 2nd stimulus package
Manhattan Cleaners and Hat Works
Posted at 9:30 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 23:22:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Every day that passes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses in the Kansas City area struggle to keep their doors open.

Whether it’s restrictions in place to help limit the virus' spread or changing consumer habits due to COVID-19, many local shops are barely treading water.

Manhattan Cleaners and Hat Works sits on the corner of Swope Parkway and East 59th Street in Kansas City, Missouri. Owner Michael King said the store has been in business since 1935.

"One of our mottos is that, if you can wear it, we can clean it from head to toe," King said.

He hopes to keep the business open for many more years, but Manhattan Cleaners isn't seeing as many customers walk through the door due to the pandemic.

King said there's been a nearly 50% drop in sales.

"People are cutting back," he said. "They’re cutting back. If they can wear that one shirt for one week, they’ll do it."

While the business received a Paycheck Protection Plan loan at the beginning of the pandemic, the money is long gone now and King said they need a lift again.

"Help," he said, "we just need help."

King's plea comes as lawmakers in Washington, D.C., continue political posturing about a second stimulus package.

"I proposed a plan that would actually cover the payroll expenses for businesses for every worker that’s had to be laid off or have their hours reduced because of COVID," Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, said. "I just think if the government is going to shut down the economy as they did, and if the government is going to cause folks to lose their jobs to deal with the health crisis as they did, then the workers deserve the relief."

Johnson County hasn't been immune to the economic struggles that accompanied the pandemic. The county still has some CARES Act funding to dole out to small businesses, which can qualify for up to $10,000 in help.

"I wish I had twice as much and twice as much in a grant, because we’re clearly seeing the need as much as they can get at this point in time," Jeff Shackelford, president of the Enterprise Center in Johnson County, said.

Shackelford said the nonprofit has received nearly 1,200 applications and can accept a few hundred more. If the money is not spent by the end of the year, it must be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Even as the Enterprise Center wraps up passing out grants from the first stimulus, Shackelford stressed the importance of Congress passing another stimulus package.

"We need another federal stimulus package ASAP," he said. "We can't wait for whatever the case may be until next year to come down the pipe, because these people are suffering mightily."

Johnson County small business owners with 50 employees or fewer who can show a revenue loss due to COVID-19 can apply online for a grant.

Shackelford said the Enterprise Center has enough money for up to 1,350 grants.

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