CHICAGO (CBS) — The grim unemployment numbers will only continue to rise if businesses can’t get help from the federal government.

The initial $349 billion dollars set aside is now gone.

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CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole spoke to one business owner who managed to get some relief, while others are wondering what to do next.

It’s a number almost too large to imagine: $349 billion. But  but with so many businesses in crisis, it just wasn’t large enough.

Surrounded by vacant cubicles Kelly Ettling has been approved for an emergency  government loan. And she’s now breathing easier.

“It’s not a celebration but it’s a relief yeah,” said Ettling of Ledgers, Inc. “I can relax.”

She’s been paying seven staffers with her accounting firm’s savings, federal funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP will, for now, fill the void.

It’s the future that’s kind of uncertain but it’s a great comfort,” Ettling said.

It’s why restaurant owner James Bateman also paid staff at Gadabout restaurant from his company’s savings,

“A lot of our staff are close friends of ours,” Bateman said. “If you’re able to help out, then you should. I got a job as a dishwasher and I’ve been in the industry ever since.”

He too was counting on a PPP loan form his bank.

“We have not heard as of yet, no,” Bateman said, who laughed nervously.

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In less than two weeks, every penny of the Paycheck Protection Program’s $349 billion dollars has been spoken for. Business owners have detailed to CBS 2 how complicated and ever changing the application process was.

“Without it, I have no idea how long we are going to be able to last,” Bateman said.

Ettling isn’t sure what exactly led to her approval and can only guess.

“I think it’s important to have a good relationship with your bank,” Ettling said.

The PPP was created by the Cares Act, which also included $25 billion in payroll grants, not loans, for the airline industry.

“It’s also kind of aggravating,” Bateman said.

Small business owners like Bateman said the federal government can’t ignore their needs, because they are essential in turning the economy around.

“They certainly need to realize that they need to put more money into this fund. And make it easier for the businesses that actually need it get it,” Bateman noted.

Republicans are trying to approve an additional $250 billion for the program, but Democrats said they won’t agree unless the program includes more funding for hospitals and local governments.

So with Washington at a stalemate, there’s not much hope for those small businesses who didn’t make the cut.

 

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