By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Help is finally on the way for families and businesses struggling through the pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, Jabbar Hasan has been mostly unemployed. He is excited to receive more relief funds.

“Christmas-morning excited,” Hasan said. “Enough to buy groceries and essential stuff that I need.”

The stimulus will also provide $300 a week more for those collecting unemployment, and the Paycheck Protection Plan loan program will be extended, providing $284 billion for loans to small businesses.

That’s welcome news for David Ulrich, who owns the Spectacle Shoppes in New Brighton, Minneapolis and St. Paul. He plans to apply for a PPP loan and use it the way he used the first one.

“We used it exactly [how] they wanted us to. Pay our employees and our mortgages, and that’s all we used it for,” Ulrich said. “It really helped us so much.”

Ulrich was one of an estimated 100,000 Minnesota businesses who received a PPP loan last spring, allowing him to stay open and not lay off employees.

While most people WCCO spoke with say the stimulus bill is welcome, many say it is not nearly enough. The $600 checks and $300 unemployment boost are half of what was doled out in the first stimulus.

“I think that $600 is not very much for people who don’t have jobs or struggling to pay their rent, or mortgage, or groceries,” Spectacle Shoppe customer Jackie Fink said.

Still, the money will definitely help

“I have a couple of people in my family … that are unemployed due to COVID and other things, so those dollars are you know, paramount to them just to make a daily living,” customer Carter Anderson said.

The stimulus bill does not include any aid to state and local governments.

Esme Murphy