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Small businesses struggling to pay bills find a friend in banks

Don Haley’s grandfather opened an Italian restaurant in Flint in 1931 during the Great Depression. As a third-generation operator, Haley has endured his share of economic heartache too. 

He’ll tell you straight up that he’s not one to complain. Yet Haley remembers too well the roadblocks that Italia Gardens faced trying to get the bank to offer any relief or make a loan after the financial meltdown in 2008-09. 

“Back then, I couldn’t even get them to return a phone call from me,” said Haley, 56, who explained that the restaurant had been doing business with that particular bank for 20 years. 

Now, Haley is looking at a new kind of financial upheaval, working with a different bank and hoping to benefit from a new recognition that the country cannot afford to ignore the small business community as the coronavirus crisis unfolds in the coming months.

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