Processing small business loan program should get smoother
While the distribution of government aid to small businesses has been cumbersome in Florida, the process should be running more smoothly in the coming days, said the top executive from Florida Bankers Association.
Alex Sanchez, the CEO and president of the organization, said bankers have been working around the clock to serve businesses in need of the loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the CARES Act. He said that since applications could be submitted under the provision on April 3, banks are now more prepared to process more applications, “with thousands upon thousands” now being processed.
“The first day was tough. The Small Business Administration portal that you have to enter in order to upload loan applications, it was tough to get on, it was difficult to navigate on the first and second day,” he said. “But I got to tell you things have gotten a lot better since. All Florida banks are up there now and they’re uploading around the clock loans to help the small businesses in their communities.”
The PPP is designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The loans are to be forgiven if small businesses keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used on rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
As per the Small Business Administration website, small businesses can apply through an SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.
Mr. Sanchez said banks have shifted the duties of their employees toward helping small businesses apply for the loans. He said that even before the stimulus plan was approved, banks were working to help modify businesses’ loans so they could survive.
“I’m proud of them because they’re doing everything they can right now to help small businesses stay afloat and survive this Covid-19 crisis,” he said.
He said that generally speaking, there have not been layoffs across the board for Florida banks. However, they have been taking extra measures to ensure the safety of their workers, such as adequate social distancing. Safety measures are being taken to ensure customers are safe as well.
“We want to make sure that anyone who goes into a bank feels safe in a bank,” he said.
Mr. Sanchez commended Marco Rubio, one of Florida’s US senators, as the chief author of PPP.
On Tuesday, Sen. Rubio took to Twitter to say that the program has been a success, helping more than a million small businesses, with $240 billion of committed loans.
A $349 billion plan, Mr. Rubio said there is a need for Congress to approve more funding for PPP.
“Of course the program’s had challenges. This is a huge program, it’s brand new. No one’s ever done it before and you’re dealing with almost 50% of the US economy, and there is more work to be done,” he said in a video uploaded to Twitter. “We have to get more lenders in the program or we’re going to leave some communities behind that are struggling to get access to it through banks. But I also think it’s important to understand we need more money for the program now because if the money runs out the guarantee will not be there and the banks will stop lending. That cannot happen.”
Mr. Sanchez said that for those in need of assistance, it’s important to reach out to a bank for help.
“Here’s my advice to your readers: If you have a problem, contact your local FDIC bank and talk to them, tell them what’s going on in your life, tell them if you’re having any economic difficulties/ They should know so they can work with you. The banks are open to serve the public.”