Top Treasury official meets with local business owners impacted by COVID-19

A top White House official in the U.S. Treasury Department visited Long Beach Wednesday to meet with small businesses that were shuttered by the pandemic.

Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, along with city officials including Mayor Robert Garcia, met with business owners Wednesday also to discuss the American Rescue Plan, which would provide relief to Americans such as direct paychecks as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

Among the businesses invited to attend a meeting with federal and local officials was Walter Farfan, owner of J.W. Goodson Salon and Tanning on Broadway and Junipero Avenue.

Farfan said he got an email late Tuesday night from the mayor’s office asking him if he wanted to attend a small business roundtable at George’s Greek Cafe.

“I told them I’d be there,” he said.

When he sat down in George’s Wednesday morning alongside other local business owners, Farfan sat right in front of Adeyemo during the meeting, which was closed to media. He said the official was taking suggestions from business owners about what the federal government could do to help them financially.

“He wanted to know how things are now that people are returning to work,” Farfan recalled his conversation with Adeyemo. “I shared with them that we are optimistic that things will be getting back to normal.”

One suggestion he called for was to make federal loans tax deductible. Farfan said it would be a good idea for businesses because it would help them clear debt and look favorable for future loans.

With more clients coming back to trim their long quarantine hair, it seems things are starting to get back to normal for the beauty industry, but a few months ago Farfan was nearing the permanent closure of his business. He closed his shop three times and took out federal loans and grants to keep up with salaries and rent for his location.

He said he lost a barber, a nail specialist and a skin care specialist. To keep his remaining staff busy, Farfan said they volunteered with the American Red Cross to host blood drives as a way to help the community and promote his business. After taking out federal loans, Farfan is now facing $10,000 in debt.

Adeyemo said there may be opportunities to qualify pandemic loans for tax write-offs at the end of the year to help, but Farfan said nothing there was concrete.

“The guy was very down to earth and approachable,” Farfan said. “He knows where we’re coming from.”

Adeyemo said he plans to return to Long Beach in six months, according to Farfan, to host a follow-up meeting with local businesses.

Other local businesses at the meeting included Rainbow Juices, the Bamboo Club and Honduras Kitchen, as well as the head of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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