Carlos Chavira and his sister, Nohely Chavira-Williams, opened Pancho's Taqueria in Dedham almost three years ago. He's spent the last five months planning to open a second location in Needham with a Small Business Administration loan of between $150,000 and $200,000.
But now, with the partial government shutdown resulting in the temporary closure of the SBA, Chavira's loan application process is on hold.
The permits are all in place, and he signed the lease on the new Needham location two and a half months ago. But for every additional day the shutdown drags on, Chavira, who originally is from Sonora, Mexico, and now lives in Dedham, says he's falling behind.
"We are losing time and money. Time because we signed the lease, and right now we're not going to be able to start building anything because we don't have the money to do so. And money because we need to start paying rent," Chavira said. The first rent payments for the new building are soon approaching, and Chavira said he will have to dip into his savings to pay for it until the loan comes through, a cost he had not anticipated.
Chavira is working with Accion, a community loan organization that helps small businesses secure financial services by acting as an intermediary between the SBA and businesses.
The closure of the SBA is leaving several small businesses in limbo, unable to secure federal loans they were expecting.
"We are ready to start doing everything we're supposed to, and we can't," Chavira said.
Businesses also work with banks like Eastern Bank in Boston to secure SBA loans.
The vice president of Boston's Eastern Bank, Charles Smith, said that more than 20 local small businesses he's working with are stuck in that limbo. Some are in the middle of an application process, while others are unable to secure loans they may have been expecting due to the shutdown.
If a business had been planning to carry out a move or renovation project with federal funding, Smith said, those plans will have to be halted for as long as they don't see that loan.
"If you're a landscaper who's preparing for the winter months and wants to buy some new equipment to take advantage of when the snowstorm comes, you can't now afford to buy that plow until the government is back," Smith said. But by that point, Smith said, the metaphorical snowstorm may have already passed. That's a business opportunity lost.
Opening Pancho's Taqueria with his sister was a "dream come true," Chavira said. Once the government re-opens, he said, he'll get his loan and start building. But in the meantime, the waiting is frustrating.
"It's like having a a steak in front of you, perfectly cooked, but you're not able to touch it because you're not allowed to," Chavira said. "We're ready to go, but we can't."