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Wisconsin businesses hopeful with new targeted federal relief, as others say it’s “too little too late”

Nectar is a vegan restaurant located in downtown Green Bay.
Nectar is a vegan restaurant located in downtown Green Bay.(WBAY)
Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The recently signed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has nearly $29 billion set aside for small restaurants.

It’s a sector the coronavirus pandemic has financially hurt, especially in Green Bay.

Brent Prechtl owns Nectar, a vegan restaurant located in downtown Green Bay, and he was all smiles the day we stopped in as business was beginning to pick up.

“I definitely have seen more people out and about in the city, and I’m also seeing more people come in to my store,” Prechtl said.

He’s a far cry from his pre-pandemic sales, still Prechtl remains optimistic after recently applying for a Payment Protection Program loan that can turn into a grant.

“The first two times I was unsuccessful when I applied for the PPP loan, I sort of fell into a loophole so I didn’t qualify,” Prechtl said. “I think in the third phase of the loans they made some changes that were quite logical that will help the small guys. The true small businesses.”

Action 2 News previously reported that Prechtl’s vegan restaurant was denied federal aid due to a technicality with the purchase of his business.

The SBA says $28.6 billion has been set aside for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This will be administered by the SBA, but details and guidance are still being developed.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, voted in favor of the bill and said polls show the $1.9 trillion stimulus has bi-partisan support, despite criticism from her Republican colleagues that it’s wasteful spending.

“It is pandemic related because so many have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, businesses have closed, 11 million people out of work,” Baldwin said.

For Sister Bay Athletic Club, however, the help came too little too late.

“Everybody’s hurting, the community is hurting. People don’t have the funds,” SABC General Manager Gretchen Johnson said. “There just aren’t enough people in this community to support our gym right now.”

The boutique gym opened in 2018 and was working to build a solid footing in the community. Johnson said lawmakers should’ve done more to help the fitness industry.

“I get a little emotional because we put a lot into it and this was for the community,” Johnson said.

Her gym is planning to close on March 31.

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