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East Lakeview Printing Shop Owner Worried About Paying Staff On Shutdown, As Paycheck Protection Program Goes Broke

CHICAGO (CBS) -- They are not workers, they are family – that is what small business owner Phil Burkhalter makes clear.

As CBS 2's Brad Edwards reported Thursday night, that is a big reason why Burkhalter and other business owners applied to the Paycheck Protection Program – to keep that family working so they can feed their own families.

And then came the news on Thursday that the government program is broke – tapped out.

"It's essential to keep employees paid and on the books," Burkhalter said when asked if the payment was life or death.

Burkhalter's American Signs by Tomorrow printing shop, at 2834 N. Halsted St., sits silent. It has bene in business since 1994.

And now, Burkhalter is the portrait of a small business owner on shutdown. Like many, he applied for the government's Paycheck Protection Program to help, and maybe save, his work family.

"I put my application in. I got a reference number to say that the application was put in, and then I waited, like you were supposed to," he said. "I waited for a week and then I started to get nervous."

So Burkhalter he picked up the phone and started calling the bank. That's when his frustrations grew.

"They have the reference number," Burkhalter said.

He didn't stop there.

"Then I started calling the 800 numbers, the 877 numbers, the 866 numbers," Burkhalter said.

He did everything right. But in one week, the $350 billion small business loan program is broke.

"If I don't get the money, I will try as long as I can to pay my employees through my savings – personal savings," Burkh We will put, maybe have to do some unemployment as well, you know, go on unemployment – but I'm trying my best to keep as much employed as possible."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has asked lawmakers for an additional $250 billion for the program.

It's not clear if and when it would happen.

The Paycheck Protection Program helps business with fewer than 500 employees by lending money with low interest rates. The loans are forgiven if employees are kept on the payroll for at least eight weeks.

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