Congressman Rick Larsen chats with The New Mexicans owner Evie De Simone on Monday about how her restaurant benefitted from federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in Everett. Larsen visited three Snohomish County businesses that benefitted from the federal PPP loans. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Congressman Rick Larsen chats with The New Mexicans owner Evie De Simone on Monday about how her restaurant benefitted from federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in Everett. Larsen visited three Snohomish County businesses that benefitted from the federal PPP loans. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Rep. Larsen tours small businesses given federal PPP loans

The congressman said leaders in Washington D.C. continue to negotiate for further COVID-19 relief.

EVERETT — A visit from her congressman has Evie De Simone, owner of The New Mexicans restaurant in Everett, hopeful that action will follow.

Rep. Rick Larsen stopped at the Hewitt Avenue restaurant Monday as he began a tour of local small businesses that received federal relief loans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s important that the House and Senate leadership continues to hear from members of Congress about what we are hearing on the ground at home and all I hear is that we are not through this yet, we need more help,” said Larsen, a Democrat from Everett.

The New Mexicans, an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant at 1416 Hewitt Ave., received a $73,000 loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an incentive program for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll.

De Simone, along with her husband Vince and her daughter Michelle, were working seven days a week for nearly two months before the loan allowed them to rehire staff.

“The PPP really did help us,” Evie said. “I don’t know where we would be today without it. … That money wasn’t just for show, it went to good use.”

In March, Larsen supported the bipartisan CARES Act that included the PPP loans. According to the representative, as much as $1.3 billion in funding has flowed into the 2nd Congressional District through the PPP. These loans have the potential to be forgiven if businesses meet the criteria established by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Inside The New Mexicans, the tribulations of other businesses aren’t far from the De Simone’s minds.

The restaurant’s new booth seating was bought from another Everett eatery that closed its doors due to COVID-19. Evie said at least two other restaurants along Hewitt Avenue had suffered a similar fate.

“They’re not just our neighbors, they are our friends,” she said. “I feel their pain.”

Evie said she was optimistic Larsen will express the wishes of small business owners to his colleagues.

“I think he wants to help us and I think he feels for our situation,” she said.

Larsen is confident the gridlock over a relief package in Washington D.C. will be broken and additional meaningful help will be given.

“Despite what you might see coming out of national press, the negotiations continue between the White House and the House and the Senate,” he said.

Larsen represents the 2nd Congressional District that includes parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, along with all of Island and San Juan counties. After his visit in Everett, the congressman headed north to Stanwood where he met with leaders at the Michael Dame & Associates accounting firm and the Josephine Caring Community nursing home.

“The message I take back is there are plenty of people that are willing to continue to deal with the pandemic the way it is,” Larsen said. “They are going to work through this, they are going to be a part of the solution and we in Congress need to see that as an example of the attitude we need to have.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

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