The U.S. government has changed its stance to allow Paycheck Protection Program loans to small small construction businesses affected by COVID-19. And that’s important for Albu’s Winter Park-based general contracting firm Albu & Associates Inc., which had applied for the program anyway through its lender, Fairwinds Credit Union.
Albu & Associates Inc. has had some work pause, and other work delayed, in Central and South Florida. So loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are critical for keeping business afloat and retaining talented employees. The company currently employs about 23 people.
“It’s going to help us not end the year in the red,” Albu said.
Previously, the recently passed PPP didn’t apply to many construction companies with 500 or fewer people. The loans — offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration — are aimed to help small companies continue to employ workers during this period of economic uncertainty.
That would have hurt construction firms in Central Florida where the industry employs more than 90,000 people. Most construction companies are family-owned, small businesses, Stephen Sandherr CEO of the Arlington, Virginia-based Associated General Contractors of America, said in a prepared statement. “This change means the program is now more likely to help smaller firms continue to operate and retain staff.”
Fortunately, work hasn’t been interrupted for Rebekka Marinov’s Orlando-based construction firm Marinov’s Lokivon & Associates LLC. Marinov started her small construction business in 2017 with her husband, Josh, as Central Florida’s economy exploded with new work. And in recent months the Orlando business felt like it was peaking and getting traction in a competitive market.
Then, COVID-19 hit, and companies started pressing pause on construction work, which is worrisome to firms like Lokivon & Associates. “We don’t have the luxury to conserve cash,” Marinov said. “We have to work.”
That said, most Central Florida construction work has continued as the industry has been deemed essential during the statewide stay-at-home order. But two major companies have shut down or slowed work: Burbank, California-based The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Orlando marine theme park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS).