How is it that our government can deliberately inflict significant financial damage on an industry and then do nothing to help it recover? How would that make you feel as a small business owner? As a former gym owner, I feel abandoned, lied to and forgotten.

It has been two years since the pandemic began to ravage my business which had been a mainstay of support and health for over 14 years in Oxford, Michigan. The first onslaught was the fear that plagued our members due to the potential for airborne transmission of the virus.

Memberships were being canceled at an incredible rate. Within a few months, we had lost almost 60% of our income.

With what I knew at the time, I took out a government-backed “disaster loan” to help get through the indefinite term of a lower membership.

Then came the executive order from the governor, declaring that our business had to close. Six months have passed and none of my creditors have provided relief. Not the franchise, nor the owner, nor the electric company, nor any other creditor. They all claimed their money.

This six-month shutdown drained the entire disaster loan we had received. Since then, the rest of the monthly financial hemorrhage has been removed from my 401(k) retirement fund.

Now I can listen to people say, “Isn’t it great that we’re back to normal?”

Normal? My normal was to have a retirement plan. My normal was to have a successful business. Normally, I wasn’t buried in huge debt that I didn’t expect to have to bear because I didn’t know the government would take away my ability to generate income.

Now I normally wonder if I will have enough money to spend the last third of my life. My normal is trying to figure out how I can generate money at 60. My normalcy is to be left to suffer by my own government while listening to my governor talk about excess pandemic relief money.

What were my options? Bankruptcy? More loans? I had no options. Due to government changes to their business loans, I personally have to guarantee the debt.

So, I walked, draining money from my retirement account until I ran out of money.

The GYMS Act was introduced in Congress over a year ago. The intention of this bill was to help businesses forced to close by government mandates. This bill has not moved.

The lights have been off since February 28. The company has disappeared. Only the mountain of debt created by the pandemic remains. It seems my business was forced to fail and then forgotten.

Ted RickabusParis