'Trying times' mean downtown businesses walking fine line in re-opening businesses

Thursday, May 14, 2020
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

As more people walk downtown, there's a fine line that businesses are trying to follow: pressure to reopen versus the cost of reopening. Some have it worse than others. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- As more people walk downtown, there's a fine line that businesses are trying to follow: pressure to reopen versus the cost of re-opening. Some have it worse than others.

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“It's been trying times to say the least, you know what I mean?” Adrian Estrada said.

Estrada isn't selling drinks at the Loft. He's renovating -- for another opportunity to make a livelihood.

"It is scary to think that you can build a business for 12 years, and because of this and no relief,” Estrada said. “You're sitting here waiting trying to figure out what's going to happen."

The Loft hasn't received a dime in two months, and they're still waiting on a long-term loan.

There's been more than 45,000 unemployment claims in the Augusta metro since March 28.

“We still see a lot of small retailers and small restaurants that don't really see a time where they are going to be open soon,” Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber, said.

Parr says most businesses are surviving off state and federal assistance. The city is also offering a relief program for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

"I think businesses have a real vested interest in returning the talent to their business that they had before,” Parr said.

For some, that's even tricky. They could open back up and lose even more money.

"I don't know how you recover from this,” Estrada said. “I mean, it's going to be very difficult to actually get back in the point where we can say we had a full recovery."

Business leaders are hoping a gradual bounce back will be enough.

The Georgia Department of Labor says they are still processing claims as fast as they can, but it's still taking three to four weeks for individual unemployment payments.

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