Their Experience with the Paycheck Payment Program
Based in St. Thomas, Caribbean Buzz is an FAA-approved helicopter company providing services in the USVI and the British Virgin Islands. In addition to charter trips in the Caribbean region, the company offers tours, day trips, and aerial photography experiences.
The 9-member team includes mechanics, pilots, and office personnel, explains founder María Rodríguez. A pilot herself, Rodríguez has been awarded in her industry for her work in supporting rescue and recovery efforts after hurricanes Irma and María.
The coronavirus lockdown has brought Caribbean Buzz to a full stop, says Rodríguez. “All tourism activities are canceled until June in the USVI, and the BVI are basically closed until September. We have no business”.
Nevertheless, maintenance operations need to continue. “Ours can be an emergency service, so we need to be ready. We have to keep providing maintenance to four helicopters and paying insurance. We need to make sure that the machines are in perfect condition”, she adds.
Rodríguez decided to keep her team for as long as she could during lockdown: “Our business is very particular, for safety reasons that I previously mentioned. I need mechanics and people to do this. I’d rather keep my people and have my team than let them go and start again with a new team later”.
This meant that at some point, there was no cash flow in the business. “We used all the money we had”, she recalls. That is when the Paycheck Payment Program gave Caribbean Buzz a second chance.
Applying for PPP
Rodríguez decided to apply for SBA’s Payment Protection Plan, but she was very thorough with her research process. “I shopped around with different banks, and Oriental had the fastest response. They had it all together and answered my questions immediately. Oriental provided the forms and a link to the website before anyone else. The process was really simple”, describes Rodríguez.
Once approved, Caribbean Buzz has been able to keep its team and equipment for the next two months. “I am very pleased with the bank!”, says Rodríguez with deep relief in her voice.