FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — Framed in Time President John Fournier has shelves and shelves of projects waiting to be picked up and paid for. But he, along with a lot of non-essential and small businesses, are shut down.

Fournier furloughed all his employees. Now he’s still waiting on stimulus funding and an unemployment check.

“The frustration of trying to apply for different things like unemployment, stimulus package, business grants is disheartening,” he said.

Job losses caused by the coronavirus are staggering. State officials say another 102,000 people filed initial unemployment claims last week.

Every morning, instead of building picture frames, Fournier checks his computer and unemployment status hoping for some good news. Instead, all he gets is more confusion.

“For the average person, it’s difficult. And once you processed it…to not know where it stands is confusing,” he said.

In Northboro, John Gaston, who owns Gaston Art and Frame, said he was happy to see he was just approved for the Protection Payroll Program. Now his biggest challenge is understanding the details of how it works.

“It’s a big relief in some ways because I know I have some money so I can pay my employees and get them back on payroll,” he said. “But it’s confusing because they are laid off and collecting unemployment. I am trying to understand the rules and if I have to bring them back right away or take a little time.”

Since March 15, more than 570,000 people have filed for unemployment in the state. But many small business owners like John Fournier are now deeply concerned if they will receive any of the funds they applied for more than two weeks ago and have not received or heard anything.

“I have no idea where we stand and now I am hearing all the money in the first phase is all dried up,” he said.

Gaston said he knows he’s one of only a few who received help.

“I’m part of an online framing community and literally only a few of us out of thousands who are part of this site have been lucky enough to receive any of these funds,” he said.

Small business owners like Fournier, who’s been in business for 16 years, will continue to wait and hope the funds will arrive on time.

“Going on every day and not knowing where it stands…that’s not my gig. My gig is picture framing,” he said.

Paul Burton

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