TORRANCE, Calif. — President Joe Biden implemented some of his new changes to the federal Payment Protection Program Wednesday. The president’s goal is to directly target smaller and minority-owned businesses to ensure they get the help they need during the pandemic.
In Torrance, California, Minal Mondkar is the CEO of Aura Seating, a Design-Manufacturer of Yoga-based office seating. Mondkar has been trying to grow her cliental list after it suffered a drop from the pandemic.
“So we started the year with a positive outlook towards expanding the business and here comes March where we had all these purchase orders,” Mondkar said. “And suddenly everything went on lockdown and customers took back all the purchase orders; all canceled.”
Even with two children, Mondkar chose to cut her and her husband’s salaries in order to keep paying her four employees amid the crisis.
“Employees are the main backbone of any business. For us, it’s a family,” Mondkar said.
Under the Trump administration, Mondkar received two rounds of PPP loans. Now, Biden’s changes to the program for a third-round include a 14-day period where only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply starting February 24. The changes include allowing business owners, who are delinquent on federal student loans, were prior non-fraud felony convicts, or non-citizen legal residents, to apply. It also includes a new way to calculate more financial support to self-employed workers, sole proprietors, and independent contractors. With Biden’s changes to the program, Mondkar said she feels like this time, she doesn’t have to compete with larger companies for funding.
“We are very grateful to hear that. It kind of gives us a beacon of light that, you know, that there is somebody out there who is thinking about us,” Mondkar said. “It’s music to my ears.”
But there’s still one big concern for Mondkar. She said while she’s grateful for federal aid, she’s not looking forward to the day in about a year when she has to start paying back thousands of dollars in loans, especially if the economy hasn’t bounced back within the year.
“All of these business owners are going to suffer because of that,” Mondkar said.
Mondkar said PPP loans are appreciated short-term relief, but if there aren’t more grants, smaller companies, like hers, may have to shut down anyway.
Another issue Mondkar pointed out was that this new round of PPP loans doesn’t help with rent. She said despite the rent moratorium in California, she knows landlords may be having a hard time too so she always pays her rent on time. She pleaded with the administration to add a provision to spend PPP on rent or for Congress to pass a bill to help with rent costs.
Despite her situation, Mondkar also helps other local businesses as much as possible. She’s on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce in the Torrance area.
She also is the Co-Chair for "Elevate! A program for Small Businesses" where every month they bring subject matter experts for a topic that would benefit small business owners. Next month, they’re planning to have the Los Angeles Small Business Administration and several banks present different options available to struggling businesses amid the pandemic.