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Local businesses get shut out of stimulus money

Cleveland Liquidation in Middleburg Heights looks for relief while trying to hang on

CLEVELAND — Hundreds of millions of dollars from the recently passed $2.2 trillion stimulus bill was supposed be available to mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and small companies forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The money is already gone, leaving many businesses begging for help -- and crying foul, as many midsize companies and fast-food chains, such as Shake Shack, gobbled up tens of millions of dollars.

That has family-run businesses, such as Cleveland Liquidation in Middleburg Heights, worried about their future.

"There was no more money left so here we are just here trying to survive and just not getting the funding and assistance that we really need,” said co-owner Ami Ameduri.

Ameduri applied for assistance through two different programs. She tried the Payroll Protection Plan, which initially would have provided $10,000 advance to companies but was later revised to offer $1,000 per employee. She also tried the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

Her company, started by her father and operated by her brother, was shut out of both.

“There was no more money left, so here we are just here trying to survive and just not getting the funding and assistance that we really need,” she said. 

Shake Shack, with more than 180 stores and 8,000 employees in the U.S. announced Sunday it was giving back $10 million it tapped from the stimulus bill. That's little consolation to really small businesses. 

RELATED: Shake Shack returning government's $10 million small-business loan

"Entrepreneurs are fighters and they are creative and we all are trying to adopt to the times, but creativity is only going to carry you so far,” she said. “We have a website (ClevelandLiquidation.com) and so we have been trying to do online orders and scheduling pickups for people. We will have some battle wounds. We are really counting on local support and that people are going to shop small."

Ameduri has been writing her local lawmakers for help. She has not heard back. Congress is considering making more money available for small businesses.

With or without it, Ameduri can't think about closing.

"I can't entertain that because I'm a fighter and I can't give up and that's not even an option, and we are going to pull though somehow.”

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