CHICAGO (CBS) —  To counter the staggering weight of COVID-19 unemployment, small businesses are being offered low interest, short term loans.

The city’s program debuted last week, the federal government’s will roll out Friday.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole sat down with a business owner trying to navigate all the applications.

Keeping a small business up and running is about more than paying the bills. It’s about keeping people employed and the weight if that is never far from small business operators

They’re still roasting up beans for the few clients they have left, but sales for Veteran Roasters are drying up.

“We’ve lost 90% of our business and our revenue,” said Veteran Roasters CEO Branden Marty. “You got to come to grips with it real quick.”

And owner Brenden Marty is working the online applications meant to get money into the hands of small businesses quick.

“We have to be prepared to discuss how much we have suffered in terms of revenue decrease,” Marty said.

Whether it’s the city’s or the federal government’s loan program, the majority of the monies must be dedicated to payroll.

But how soon they cash will flow is unclear.

“They talk about the urgency of your request, something you need today two weeks or a number of months,” he said. “I am trying to be optimistic.”

Optimistic not just for himself but his workers. Veteran Roasters refers no just to Marty’s Navy past, but the often struggling vets he’s chosen to employ. He’s s still partially compensating staff asked to stay-at-home.

“Financially we are trying to keep everyone as whole as long as we can,” Marty said.

“It’s kind of scary out there though,” Jesse Avecilla of Chicago’s West Side. She served in the Navy too, bounced form job to job until Marty came along, and she’s indebted.

“I’ll fight with him. I’ll go to war with him,” she said.

“It’s a race against time, to bring that money to survive for one more day,” he lamented.

The wait for assistance could come as early as Friday, or perhaps a few weeks away.

But it can’t come soon enough.

Vince Gerasole