CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - New numbers show there’s still an incredible demand for help to keep small businesses afloat.
19 News investigators told you when the state’s grant application system was overloaded last month when many small business owners were trying to apply for funding provided in the CARES Act.
The new data we obtained paints a grim picture of the continued struggle small businesses face even after Ohio disbursed nearly all of the $125 million it had allotted for the program.
Kim Flaherty owns AOK fitness in Strongsville. She was hoping to receive one of the state’s $10,000 grants.
“It would help me sleep at night knowing there’s that cushion there,” she said. “It’s been really rough.”
She came to us when her application was denied because of an “employment verification” error.
“I am just mystified as to why being denied under employment verification,” Flaherty said. “What more could you provide?” She said.
She says she successfully received a grant from the state at the beginning of the pandemic. This time, she says she uploaded even more tax documents and payroll information than she did the first time the state gave out similar grant money.
19 Investigates discovered Flaherty is one of thousands who were told they wouldn’t be getting any help.
Of the 36,280 applications that came in, about 12 percent of them were denied, according to the numbers we obtained from the state.
According to the letter Flaherty received there doesn’t seem like there will be a second chance for them.
“Nope. Just ‘denied.’ Get in the back of the line and start all over from scratch,” she said.
That’s a problem for her because the numbers show 12,473 of the 12,500 businesses the state has money for have already been approved for funding. That’s more than 99 percent.
The state says it still has 19,338 applications it could review, but there’s only enough money to fund a mere 27 of those.
Flaherty knows she likely won’t be one of them if she is able to figure out what to do to get back in line.
“Anybody who operates paycheck to paycheck - that’s how small business is getting by right now,” she said. “Just one minute to one minute, one week to one week hoping that you can make it one more month. That’s the sad reality of it.”
If Ohio were to get more money for small businesses in the days ahead, it’s unclear whether the state would give it to those next in line for this small business grant or create a new application system.