Credit: Jamie Araki/Canyons News

By Cristina Lombardo

(Credit: Jamie Araki)

Anxieties are growing among small business owners across the Santa Clarita Valley as COVID-19 sends shockwaves throughout the local economy.  With the economy booming, there was plenty of optimism for small business owners, but since the COVID-19 outbreak happened, they are struggling to stay afloat. 

The feeling of uncertainty is strong for employers and employees alike, as businesses are being temporarily shut down and events are being cancelled due to Governor Newsom’s statewide safer-at-home order, as well as local mandates.

“ I had to tell all of (my staff) that I had to close the doors and didn’t have anywhere for them to work. As you know that most households need more than one income, and this was the case with all of them,” said Sandi Guiterrez Thomas, owner of Studio Bijoux Salon and Boutique.

Gutierrez saw the writing on the wall — this pandemic was beginning to impact her business. She felt helpless and said there was nothing she could do to help those depending on her.

“I’m scared that I will have to close permanently and will not have anywhere for my girls to go,” Gutierrez said.

“So it affects me every single day.”

(Credit: Jamie Araki)

The effects of the outbreak extend to all kinds of industries, where working from home remotely sometimes just isn’t an option. 

“This has a domino effect on us, those who have artists we work with to present on the radio,” said Leilani Shiu, an artist development representative grappling with precautions radio stations have taken to not allow guests at their stations. “The programmers aren’t allowed to see anyone as well. The record labels also had to shut down.”

As places are being temporarily shut down and small business owners are struggling to support employees, businesses are worried they might not be able to survive and will have to shut down for good.

Business owners are turning to the CARES act, a $2 trillion relief bill that includes $377 billion for small businesses to be able to take out low-interest loans, grants, and debt relief to stay afloat. 

However, some local entrepreneurs are wary and doubtful about taking advantage of the stimulus, and are finding it hard to find helpful information.

“I think it makes people feel overwhelmed and intimidated so they don’t actually follow through or they do it wrong and get denied,” said Renee Kennedy, the owner of Earth Baby Boutique in Newhall. 

Kennedy does not have a payroll or employees, meaning she may not qualify for the loan.

“There’s no real help with the stimulus as of right now, especially for me. I believe you have to have payroll and employees,” said Kennedy. “There’s lots of stipulations. Also the SBA loan applications are pretty intense and it’s hard when you don’t have help or don’t understand them.”

Canyons News reporters Emily Berryhill, Austin Chase, Joey Neugebauer and Sasha Strater contributed to this story.

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