Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks as Covid-19 spreads across the country, and small business owners are scrambling to stay afloat.
About 10 million employees have been laid off as states like New York have closed “non-essential” businesses to slow the rate of coronavirus infection. Many businesses, including a number in Baldwin, are seeking loans during what is a tough time for small local companies.
The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the $2 trillion stimulus package enacted by the federal government, offers companies and nonprofit organizations loans to cover payroll and other expenses.
Ron Gerchen, who owns Ferring Deli in Baldwin with two partners, Paul Dolan and Thomas Martensen, said he was applying for a loan through the program. The deli remains open, with limited service.
“We’re in the process of getting that going right now with my accountant,” Gerchen said. “If it works, it should really help out small businesses.”
In some cases, the loan would be forgiven if the borrower retains its employees and does not cut wages.
“Basically you can get almost a whole loan forgiven if you use it for certain things,” Gerchen said, “which is awesome.”
He has changed his business model to adjust to the circumstances. He and his employees are doing home deliveries between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for people who need them. “We’re offering curbside pickups, phone orders ahead to pick up at the register,” he said. “Anything that can help them in this time of crisis that we’re in here.”
The deli is offering frozen prepared meals to make it easier on the people taking food home. Usually cooks would be making sandwiches for local commuters.
“We have a lot of prepared meals, microwaveable frozen dinners, that they can put in the oven, and prepared soups to take home,” Gerchen said. “There’s so many things we’re doing now to help the people that are staying home all the time. You can get a week’s worth of frozen meals or a few days’ worth of soups, and they can stay home then and not have to come out every day.”
The frozen meal options include chicken parmigiana, lasagna, chicken pot pie, turkey dinner and pot roast, among others. For a full list, visit the Ferring Deli website, ferringdeli.com, or its Facebook page.
A Baldwin Chamber of Commerce member who declined to be identified said they had tried applying for the loan assistance three times, but experienced technical difficulties. “No one knows anything about it because it’s so new,” the member said. “So you don’t know what’s going to actually happen.”
Chamber President Erik Mahler implored residents to shop locally “because businesses are starving now.”
Additionally, chamber Secretary Nancy Capozzi compiled a list of Baldwin businesses — not just chamber members — that have remained open and continue to serve residents. A flier displaying the list is circulating on social media.
“Our Baldwin Chamber members are noted in blue,” the flier reads, “however, we felt that all businesses are in need of our support at this difficult time. Please support them as much as you can, so they can still be open for business when this crisis is over.”