Leslie Fleuranges was on the cusp of achieving her dream, opening a pet hotel in Topeka.
Six years in the making, Fleuranges was set to open Tender Loving Care Pet Nursing Hotel in April, but the global pandemic struck, putting a dent in her plans.
Pet care companies were deemed essential businesses, so luckily, or at least she thought, Fleurenges was still able to open. However, due to the pandemic, the level of business she’d projected didn’t manifest. She fell short of her income projections but her fixed overhead costs — like her construction loan — were ongoing.
In an interview with KSNT News, Fleuranges discussed all the money she had invested into the building, and the pending mortgage she was on the hook for.
Wisely, she began looking for available assistance and came across Small Business loans and even grant program through the federal, state and her local city government. The City had a $10,000 small businesses grant and the state was offering a $20,000 grant, both of which would have been a “business saver.”
“Do you know what $10,000 can mean to a new business? Everything,” she said in the KSNT interview.
When Fleuranges checked the program qualifications, she met them all except she had to be able to show a loss of income from the previous year. Last year, she was just in the planning and development stages, but had been investing significantly in her business. That didn’t matter, she needed to show income, so she didn’t qualify for any of the grants.
“I’ve called Sen. (Jerry) Moran’s office, I’ve spoken to Aaron Mays with the county, I’ve spoken to the city manager, I’ve spoken to the Greater Topeka Partnership, what can we do?” she said in the interview.
Sen. Moran’s team told Fleuranges her story is part of a greater issue that needs to be resolved.
Word of wisdom: to other new businesses, for NOW, a lot of the pandemic business assistance grants may not be available to you.