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Shut Out Of Federal Lifeline, Gold Coast Nail Salon Owner Pleads Case To Pritzker That She Can Reopen Safely In COVID-19 Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) – A business owner denied financial help in the first round of aid for small businesses shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, is hopeful she'll get help this time around. However, as Chris Tye reports, with no re-assurances, she's re-inventing her shop, and making a plea to the governor.

The masks are secured, the tables are sprayed and the customer stations reduced and spread out.

The past 35 years as a successful immigrant business owner have been a breeze compared to the last two months for Grace Sniezynski.

"The other day I cried," she said. "I can picture one employee sitting here, and one sitting here and in great spirits."

But those spirits have been dampened as the chairs and tubs sit empty at her Gold Coast nail salon, Spa Emilia.

Reinvention has been job one. But a second month of lost business due to COVID-19 shutdowns brings an economic fork in the road--either pay some employees or pay the rent.

Unable to secure a Paycheck Protection Program loan in round one, she has looked around the world for ideas. In Europe: nail techs are thinking out of the box -- some doing manicures through a mail box slot to make business happen.

Grace isn't ready for that: However, she did drop a letter in the mail last week.

"This letter I sent to Gov. Pritzker was like my manifesto," she said. "I thanked him for the great job, but I am begging him for revaluating the date."

She'd like a May 15 re-evaluation of the stay at home order, not May 30 as it stands now.

Polish and brushes will be met with forehead thermometers and full length glass shields to protect workers and customers from infection--proof her industry is nimble and worthy of a green light.

"Every nail salon can re-arrange the furniture," Sniezynski said. "We can meet your guidelines that you set previously. We can do it."

Illinois also released additional loan money for small businesses on Monday.

The state treasurer's office takes $500 million of its $13 billion investment portfolio and makes it available to community lending institutions, such as local banks and credit unions. In turn, the lending institutions agree to loan the money to small businesses at below-market rates. The financial institutions determine eligibility and loan terms.

CBS 2 is committed to Working for Chicago, getting you the answers you need to get back to work safely.

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