STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Many associate downtown state college with high rent prices—as it’s considered prime real-estate with the potential for plenty of foot-traffic.
But now that the foot traffic is gone, how can small businesses survive rent?
One property owner is looking to take rent out of the equation, for at least for a month.
The sound of silence….something unfamiliar to Downtown State College.
And for business owners it’s a surreal scene, that brings uncertainty if their shop will see another tomorrow.
“Initially we were all stunned by what was happening, and business pretty much came to a stand-still,” Joseph Haloua, Owner of Spectacles F.Y. Eye said.
“It stopped and there was no more money, and we were really thinking–how could we pay these bills.”
Joseph Haloua, owner of Spectacles F.Y. Eye has his doors shut, only opening for emergencies when someone needs glasses.
“There’s no new business whatsoever,” Haloua added.
“We have lost revenue compared to last year… half of the month went in and then nothing else…so we can only live on reserves.”
Then an email came from State College Downtown properties, who owns around 100 properties downtown.
The email’s message: All local companies, without a national footprint, don’t have to pay rent for the month of April.
“It gives us time to figure things out,” Haloua says.
Joseph says no rent next month lets him continue to pay his 3 employees who are at home, who will receive half-pay.
He only wants them to go on unemployment as a last resort.
Joseph says he and his wife are continuing to work, but without a paycheck, to keep their business running.
A top concern as an uncertain future looms ahead.
“I’m concerned about the possiblity of losing the small buisnesses… because the local small businesses are the people who make this town.”
“Small businesses have to be supported in time of crises because they support the community the rest of the time,” Haloua added.
This week the state approved a total of 61 million dollars in low-interest loans to small businesses.
We’re told any businesses with 100 full-time employees or less can get up to $100,000 in loans with no payments or interest for the first year.