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$349 billion payroll program to provide federal assistance to small business owners

HOUSTON – Cavo Coffee, a specialty coffee house in West University, serves brews, espressos and baked goods.

Owner Michael Caplan said he is trying his best to survive the coronavirus business crash, which is ravaging many restaurants and small businesses throughout the country.

"I've had to layoff half my staff and close one of my stores completely right now," Caplan said.

The Small Business Administration opened registration Friday for the Payroll Protect Program. A new program that will save businesses and employees, Caplan said.

"With this program, I am going to be able to hire back all of my employees, pay them their full salaries, and any benefits they have coming to them. The government will pay that money back to me," he said.

Jerry Tarnopol, the Executive Vice President of SBA Lending with Community Bank of Texas, explained how the $349 billion payroll program would work for small business owners.

"You will get two-and-a-half times what you would normally spend in an average month on payroll to pay your employees," he said. "You don't have to pay that money back as long as you keep everyone working for you up to June 30th."

Caplan said he spends $15,000 on average each month for Cavo Coffee's payroll. He said the government would provide about $37,000 for his employees.

The payroll program is a lifeline for millions of small business owners whose businesses have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“For me, this is the difference between going out of business and surviving,” Caplan said.