Business owner says the second round of aid is needed to survive


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Small businesses in Honolulu will soon have access to a second wave of CARES Act money through the city’s Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund.

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The money comes as many shop and restaurant owners struggle during the second stay-at-home order.

Highway Inn owner, Monica Toguchi Ryan, has kept the popular restaurant afloat during the past six months of the pandemic. Although, it has not been easy with the financial constraints from COVID-19.

Toguchi Ryan said, “We are really struggling, small businesses in Hawaii, we’re really on our last dime. We have been living off the savings, whatever we had.”  

Oahu’s second stay-at-home order is setting back local mom and pop shops and restaurants even further. Toguchi Ryan said the restaurant will be applying for this new round of relief funds.

“We are really seriously on the last leg of being able to keep our doors open, and so the timing of the announcement by the mayor is very timely,” said Toguchi Ryan.

An additional $75 million was added to the Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund to provide reimbursable grants to qualifying businesses. The city is partnering with four local credit unions to review applications and distribute the funds.

Business owners who applied for the CARES Act funding through the program can reapply. The Honolulu mayor’s decision aligns with a resolution that was introduced by Councilmember Kym Pine.

Pine said, “We have been advocating for relief every time a shut down occurs imposed by the government. These businesses are hanging by a thread.”  

The second round of governmental aid comes as businesses that are considered non-essential remain closed and restaurants are limited to take-out service.

Through these tough times for small businesses, community grassroots groups like Heart and Soul Hawaii have sprouted in support of a safe reopening. The group has gathered thousands of signatures online.

Toguchi Ryan participated in a video that is part of the grassroots campaign. She said she wanted to speak out about the difficulties that she and her employees have faced during the last few months.

“I think many of us are just really tired. We’re constantly having to deal with this pandemic and how’s affecting our business and how it’s affecting our employee’s livelihoods,” said Toguchi Ryan.

The second wave of business relief funds will go online on September 21.

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