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ID Small Businesses Hold On as Pandemic Continues

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Close to half of small businesses in the United States have had to let employees go over the past year. (daniilvolkov/Adobe Stock)
Close to half of small businesses in the United States have had to let employees go over the past year. (daniilvolkov/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID - Producer, Contact
February 26, 2021

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho's smallest businesses are struggling to weather the pandemic.

Johnatan Amissa is the director of operations and owner of Skyroad Medical Transportation in Boise, which provides non-medical emergency moves to places such as doctor appointments. He said COVID-19 slowed down his business to the point where he had to let some of his employees go.

"They're like family to me," said Amissa. "We pretty much tell each other everything. We support each other, and I had to let them go. It's so painful and mentally, it kind of haunted me and it's still haunting me right now."

Amissa said he's been able to get financial assistance from federal government relief programs, a Boise city grant and aid from the organization Economic Opportunity by Jannus.

Forty-six percent of businesses had to decrease their workforce due to the pandemic, according to the Small Business Credit Survey. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees reported being in the worst financial straits.

Hana Mutlak started Food Land Market with her brother in Boise just a few months before the pandemic hit. Food Land is a vegetarian grocery store, restaurant and coffee shop.

Mutlak said the grocery side has kept them afloat. They've received federal and city loans and aid from Economic Opportunity, but business still is shaky.

"We are always hoping to have really good business so we don't need any aid from anywhere," said Mutlak. "So hopefully everybody can get the vaccine and we become OK. Then we can be independent."

Amissa said he's put a lot of work and money into his business.

"It would be disappointing," said Amissa, "to see if I had to close my door one day because I run out of money or because the banks cannot offer me the line of credit or anything to support my business in the future. So it's very scary and I just go day by day, to be honest."

He said wearing masks is one of the best ways to help small businesses right now so the country can get back to normal.

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