By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Small businesses are struggling to stay afloat while also struggling to understand what federal programs may be available to help them. There is $350 million up for grabs under the federal stimulus package, but some of that money could be hard to come by.

“The concern that I have, and I think a lot of people share, is the amount of money is not going to be available based on the number of loans that come through,” McCarthy & Company Managing Partner Marty McCarthy said.

Despite a federal lifeline, trouble may already be brewing for the Paycheck Protection Program.

On Friday, the first day small businesses could apply, more than $5.4 billion was approved in over $17,000 loans.

McCarthy is the managing partner of McCarthy & Company, based out of Montgomery County.

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The accounting firm is helping small businesses apply for a piece of the $349 billion pie, but he questions if it will be enough.

“There’s several million small businesses in this country,” McCarthy said. “I think I did the math at one point and if every small business applied and we used all the funds, it would be $12 per business.”

Under the federal program, small businesses won’t have to pay back the loans if they maintain their workforce.

“This loan, it is a good loan if you’re going to retain employees and pay employees,” McCarthy said.

But for Rakesh Ramola, who owns Indeblue Restaurant in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood area, says he won’t be applying for the loan. He had to lay off all 20 of his workers.


“If you have a larger staff, then it’s OK,” Ramola said. “But I don’t have any more staff. I’m by myself and two other staff is here.”

Like most restaurants, they’re now only offering takeout or delivery.

Ramola says he’s just trying to keep the doors open.

“This is all about my kids and family,” Ramola said. “I have to take care of them, so I had to do it.”

In addition to federal loans, small businesses can also apply for local and state loans.

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved $60 million in small business loans. Philadelphia approved $9 million.