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Local business owner struggling, Governor announces new support program for port workers

Local business owner struggling, Governor announces new support program for port workers
Local business owner struggling, Governor announces new support program for port workers 02:38

BALTIMORE -- Leaders from the Small Business Association traveled to Baltimore to talk about the federal resources available to businesses impacted by the Key Bridge collapse. But not all business owners have been able to receive the help they need.  

One local business owner in Canton shared his concerns after not having any business since the Key Bridge collapse and not being able to qualify for certain government assistance designed to help businesses that have been impacted. 

"I haven't made a check since the bridge came down," Frederick Mensah, owner of Cilla Transportation said. 

Cilla Transportation is a trucking company that picks up containers from the Port of Baltimore. He says he hasn't had any work since the Key Bridge collapsed more than three weeks ago.  

"We need help and I hope they will look at the situation because nobody saw this thing coming and we've all got bills to pay," said Mensah. 

By "We" Frederick is talking about his fellow truck drivers, independent contractors who have been unable to qualify for unemployment and other government assistance. 

In the wake of the bridge collapse, Governor Wes Moore made a disaster declaration, enabling small business owners to apply for federal disaster loans.  

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest loans for nonprofits and small businesses that have been impacted. 

The Deputy Administrator of SBA says so far $3.4 million dollars worth of loans have been approved.  

"We are going to build on this." Dilawar Syed of the U.S. Small Business Association said. "This number is going to grow in the coming weeks and days." 

But some, like Frederick, are hesitant about a loan. 

"It's not just a loan. You get a loan, it comes with interest and all of that." Mensah said. "If it wasn't for the bridge collapse, we are just working and paying our bills. We need a lot of the grants also to help us get through this." 

Frustration as other port workers have more options for support.  

"They have some unemployment for the workers, the longshore people, but we, the independent truckers, we are not getting any help," Mensah said. 

A representative from the governor's office says as of today, there is support available for people, like Frederick who are "soloprenuers", coming through the Department of Labor.  

Next week the Department of Commerce will be offering grants up to $100K for impacted businesses.  

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