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The $350 billion allotted for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) passed by Congress to help America’s small businesses and employees does little to aid health clubs and gyms, Crunch Fitness Franchise Owner Assaf Gal said Tuesday.
Appearing on “Fox & Friends” with host Brian Kilmeade, Gal said that while the emergency stimulus is a “really good and appreciated first step,” the “formula” used to determine loan forgiveness doesn’t work for health clubs.
“As you mentioned, we [were]…first forced to close. It’s going to be some time before we’re allowed to reopen. And, when we reopen, we’re not sure what that is going to look like,” he explained. “So, the formula they put in for 75 percent of the funds utilized for payroll within an eight-week period from funding, it isn’t really workable for the health club business.”
Gal said that for Crunch Fitness the payroll is approximately 50 percent of their operating expenses.
“So, that kind of adjustment would be helpful,” he remarked.
Since April 3, when the program began, more than 791,000 applications have been approved by the Small Business Administration. In 2019, it handled under 60,000.
However, although all the funds may be spoken for this week, the amount actually being disbursed to businesses is lagging well behind. Bankers have said the process has been hampered by a lack of clarity from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) and by the need first to use bank personnel to process applications before closing loans.
Gal told Kilmeade that the eight-week period — a precondition for loan forgiveness — businesses have to use the loan proceeds after the loan is made is not doable.
“The eight weeks from funding of the loan — like I said, we are already closed right now. We have no clarity into when we are reopening and we don’t know what it is going to be like: what limitations are placed upon us for maintaining social distancing when we re-open,” Gal stated. “So that eight-week period is not really workable.”
“I would much rather see that pushed towards eight weeks from when we open. And even at that, pushing it towards 20 weeks gives us that runway that we need to go from skeleton shifts to full operating like we were before,” he added.
“We are going to get back to where we were, but it’s going to take some time. So, that eight-week period isn’t workable,” Gal continued further. “Whatever is not forgiven converted to a two-year payback period is not the help that we need right now. We should like to see that more like a traditional SBA loan that, for our business, would be like a 10-year payback period.”
“Our big focus is on the long-term viability and sustainability of our business, so we can pay those paychecks far out into the future,” he concluded. “That’s what we need. We need help.”