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 treats, 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…

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