Can California save small businesses with COVID-19 relief plan?

In summary

As new state grants, tax credits and federal loans roll out, small business owners say their survival will depend more on reopening rules, red tape and resolving unemployment chaos. What happens next will shape the state’s job market for years to come.

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Since the coronavirus swept into Silicon Valley last spring, Denise Russell’s race to save her San Jose salon has stretched into a marathon. It started with a $103,020 Paycheck Protection Program loan. Then came a federal small business Economic Injury Disaster Loan for $159,000. Now, she’s applying for a $15,000 state grant and another PPP loan — all while fighting the state for delayed unemployment payments.

“They make it so complicated,” said Russell, whose Special FX Salon & Day Spa was closed for seven months in 2020. “They’re constantly changing the rules. I mean, it’s a nightmare.”