This story has been updated throughout.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday an initiative that will give $50 million in loans to small businesses affected by closures due to the coronavirus.
Most businesses have been forced to close amid local and statewide mandates to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott said during a news conference Monday that the effort should help businesses continue to pay employees. He said small businesses are vital to the Texas economy.
"Their ongoing existence has been threatened. What they need most at this time is an economic lifeline. An infusion of capital as they prepare to return to business as usual," the governor said.
Abbott said it remains unclear when businesses can reopen and resume normal routines. The state remains under an executive order until April 30 that limits the operation of many businesses. It's unclear if that order will be extended.
The governor said COVID-19 testing numbers show that the curve may be flattening in Texas, but he cautioned that people won't be able to go back to work and businesses cannot reopen all at once.
The governor’s office partnered with Goldman Sachs, the not-for-profit LiftFund and other community development institutions to implement the small business initiative.
The loans will be made through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. That money will be mainly used for payroll so that businesses can retain their employees.
"Small businesses and their employees are at the heart of the Texas economy, and they need support during these difficult times,” Abbott said. “These loans will help us revitalize our economy and restore Texans’ livelihoods as we respond to COVID-19.”
The governor was joined by several business owners for the announcement including Brent Reaves, the owner of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas.
Paul Hollowell is one of many small business owners scrambling to maintain his business. Seven years ago he founded Lux Tanning Spa, but now he’s shut down during their busiest season.
“We were on track to have our busiest month ever, and I actually invested quite a bit to prepare, and now my revenue is zero,” Hollowell said. “I saved my life to be able to start this company and I’ve spent the past seven years building it. And more than anything right now I really just want to get back to work.”
Hollowell now has 16 employees and two locations.
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Hollowell said he has applied for two loans to help his business during coronavirus-related closures.
“So far I have not heard back on anything, but I’m hopeful that it will allow us to continue operations," he said.
Hollowell said he "will do everything humanly possible" to ensure he can reopen his business. He said customers can text TAN to 51515 to be alerted when the business reopens.
To apply for the loan or learn more about the program, go to the LiftFund website.