Jenn Topliff turned out 250,000 coconut macaroons in 2019, selling most of them to Alaska Airlines as treats for its first-class passengers. Zupan’s carries the threats, too, and Hawaiian Airlines was in discussions about a substantial order from Roons, Topliff’s small Portland company.

Then came COVID-19: Air travel hit a wall and Topliff’s business nearly evaporated, overnight.

Like so many other entrepreneurs walloped by the pandemic, federal grants and loans kept Topliff afloat. While she waited for air travel – and full, onboard food service – to resume, she began refocusing on marketing her macaroons for corporate holiday gifts.

The appetite seemed to be there, so five months ago Topliff arranged a $114,000 federal disaster loan to help cover packaging and ingredients, and to begin paying back her landlord for rent payments she has missed. She anticipated a robust baking season this fall.

But the federal money never arrived.

While the Small Business Administration’s online portal says Topliff has been “confirmed” for her $114,000, a letter from the federal agency indicated that she had withdrawn her application and wouldn’t be getting the money.

Dozens of other Oregon entrepreneurs are facing the same crunch, lamenting in online forums that the Small Business Administration backtracked on its loan promises. They say they can’t get any clarity from the federal agency.

Small business advocates say the problem appears widespread. Topliff said she can’t…

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