Hawaii small businesses start getting federal emergency funding

Updated: Apr. 15, 2020 at 9:30 PM HST
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WAIPIO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An auto repair shop in Waipio is one of the small businesses in Hawaii benefiting from the federal CARES Act, meant to help the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Capitol Auto Service has remained open as an essential service, but owner Phillip Fox said business has dropped 35 percent in the last two and-a-half weeks.

“I believe that people are staying at home more, and they know they’re not going to be needing their vehicles as much, so the drops that we’re getting here are more so, ‘This is broken, I need to fix this just in case,’” said Fox.

When the city and state issued stay-at-home, work from home orders, Fox tried to assure his workers.

“Phil pulled us all to the side and said hey, my goal is to not lay anybody off and keep everybody working,” said assistant manager Kawika Hendricksen.

Fox had heard about the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers emergency loans at one percent interest for small businesses. The loans are forgivable if they are used for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.

Fox applied at the beginning of the month. He was approved and bot the funding within ten days.

“What it means is I can fully pay my employees for two months, without having to dip into my savings or borrow money to pay the employees,” said Fox.

It’s definitely a relief for the seven employees at the auto repair shop.

“I’m glad I have the job to keep me busy,” said auto technician Jared Bugarin, who’s been working at Capitol Auto for two years. “I don’t know what I would be doing if I was stuck at home, even though I got the stimulus check.”

“I definitely feel blossed that I’m able to come here and do my work as normal and keep everything going,” said Hendricksen.

It’s a good thing that Fox applied early. There’s a chance the $349 billion federal program could run out of funding in the next day or two.

Fox said having the emergency funds gives him and his employees some peace of mind. And he also said the individual stimulus checks may also result in a boost.

“Just in the last two days I’ve had people call up because they’re getting stimulus money, wanting to do work on the car,” he said. “So the stimulus money’s working too. So it’s good news.”

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