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Colorado Springs small businesses hold out hope for federal loan relief

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A total of $7.4 billion in small business loans have been handed out to Colorado businesses that are trying to stay afloat.

But there's controversy surrounding the federal program with big companies getting extra cash while smaller businesses in Colorado Springs are left in limbo.

"I was very thankful for the stimulus check that we got. It was able to use that to help pay some bills here," said Nicole Bergamo.

Bergamo is a Colorado Springs optometrist. She opened her own optometry clinic two years ago.

If she's able to secure a federal loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) program it would help keep her business going through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That money would help just to pay rent. Pay all those little bills that we have and some big bills," Bergamo said. "It would also keep people on the payroll. So, it's just very important to keep the doors open."

More than 41,000 Colorado small businesses were approved in the first round of federal loan applications. But Bergamo's bank got her application the night before federal funding ran out.

"Frustrating is a little bit of an understatement," said Jessica Hagmaier, who launched a website consulting and brand management business in Colorado Springs about a year ago. She submitted her information for an SBA loan three different times.

"I got an email that said I was actually approved and that my loan documents were going to be on the way within a few minutes," she said.

It turned out to be an error. The new business owner wasn't approved. The lack of immediate funding forced Hagmaier to furlough two of the three employees she hired this January.

That's part of the reason she was frustrated to learn some giant corporations received the federal money.

"You have like multi-million dollar companies that are receiving millions and millions of dollars," she said. "Just one of those that went to one of those corporations could've helped a hundred, two hundred, three hundred small businesses with the amount that they received. That's the frustrating part."

The average loan approved for Colorado businesses was more than $177,000. Colorado accounts for just over 2% of the total share of available federal loans.

Gov. Jared Polis and Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet wrote a letter to the senate leader in April about the SBA program. The lawmakers urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer for changes to the federal loan processes aimed at helping more small businesses, including more funding in a fourth coronavirus relief package.

Colorado Springs / Local News

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.


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