Small businesses leave $130 billion in emergency relief untouched — and ask Congress to rethink the aid

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But like so many others, the owners of Atrevida Beer Co. in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have an urgent message for lawmakers as applications for the small business emergency rescue program close Tuesday night: Access to money with more flexible terms is needed, and fast. “It didn’t solve the problems,” Rich Fierro told CNN in an interview. “What it did was sustain us for a few more months.” The program, as it was drafted in the earliest days of the pandemic and resulting shutdowns of businesses across the country, was intended to do just that — serve as a bridge for small business owners who watched their revenues vanish into thin air through no fault of their own. The program was designed to bridge the shutdowns and help businesses keep employees in their jobs — and in turn, the loans taken out would be forgiven, essentially shifting into a grant. But now business owners like the Fierros are watching the virus spike across the country with trepidation — and growing recognition that a short-term fix isn’t the right recipe for survival for small operators ravaged by the pandemic. “It’s such a fluid situation that no one really knows when it’s gonna …

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