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Saturday Governor Kay Ivey announced that small businesses in the state, negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are eligible for economic injury disaster loans. The loans would be issued under the U.S. Small Business Administration but some start up business owners say they'd like to qualify as well.

Imagine trying to hold your business grand opening while people are being told to practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19? That's the grim reality for one startup business owner in Decatur who could experience a huge investment loss before his business even gets off the ground.

Chris Gilliand recently started a small vehicle calibration company in the River City, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought his plans to a screeching halt.

“People aren`t concerned whether their safety systems are going to keep them safe in an accident when they’re worried that touching the door handle on their car is going to be more dangerous,” explained Gilliand.

And while he says he understands the necessary precautions, the timing of things couldn’t have been worse.

Gilliand officially formed his company, Excalibrations, in January, emptying his 401K and draining his life savings to invest in it.

“I've spent the first part of this year getting equipment, building and leasing set up,” he said. 

The startup business owner was set to have a grand opening for the company on March 16. It was postponed due to the threat of COVID-19

“All of the advertising and marketing monies, what I’ve spent, has just been wasted,” said Gilliand. 

Senator Doug Jones and Congressman Robert Aderholt recently expressed their desires to help small businesses stay afloat in these times.

“Most of the businesses across Alabama and across America are small businesses. And that’s who employs people,” said Aderholt. “We have to make sure that we do everything we can so that small businesses don’t go out of business.”

“Small businesses like restaurants, mainstream retailers, will go bankrupt if we’re not careful,” explained Jones. “They’re going to go bankrupt as folks stay home and practice the social distancing that we know we have to do.”

With the governor announcing Alabamians can apply for the SBA’s EIDL loans, Gilliand says he immediately filled out the online application. But he experienced a few roadblocks.

“They want three years of your corporate, your business tax returns. Projected profit loss statements, year to date income, which me being a new startup, I don't have that,” he disclosed.

The SBA site says the disaster loans cover small business operating expenses after a declared disaster. Gilliand says he still plans to gather the documents he does have to complete the application and hopes for the best. 

For those working to ensure economic stability, Gilliand has one request.

“Look at the true small businesses,” he encouraged. “Look at these businesses that may not be able to survive 60 days without having income.”