Why Can’t My Business Get the Help They Promised?

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A Note from Union County Chamber President
Pat Kahle, IOM

During this unprecedented time, we are experiencing challenges on every front affecting our health, our economic viability, and even our ability to obtain essential goods. 

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep their employees working.  The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.  To apply for this loan, small business owners must apply at a bank.

In addition, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small business owners which includes an advance of up to $10,000.  Applications for this loan are submitted online directly to the SBA.

Delays , Confusion, and Frustration

We are hearing from small business owners across our county about their concerns regarding the responses they are receiving from banks and the SBA.  There is much confusion, delayed or no responses, and even some banks who are unable to accept additional applications.  Small business owners are frustrated, scared, and they do not know where to turn.

Challenges for the Banks

As a former banker whose career spanned multiple challenging events including the Great Recession, I have experienced the challenges that occur when a government program of great magnitude is rolled out at the speed of light.  Under normal circumstances, the ability of the federal government to effectively “mash” their message from the halls of Congress to the banker on main street for a program of this complexity and magnitude takes lots of time and communication.  CARES was passed quickly and implemented almost immediately.  Multiply that by the sheer volume of calls, loan applications and the result is what we are experiencing now – delays, confusion, and frustration.

Business Owner Fears

On the other side as a former entrepreneur whose business was impacted by 9/11, I fully understand the frustration and fear that comes when your successful business comes to a screeching stop by an event caused by no fault of your own.  The combination of decreased or no revenue and fixed expenses makes for stressful days and sleepless nights.  Add to that mixture the massive amount of information you need to sort through to understand your options, delayed responses from those you are depending on to assist you, and the fear of not being able to get the help you need and you have a situation that causes the best of us to lose our composure.

Overwhelming Response

Banks, the SBA, and NC Works are being inundated with the massive number of calls, applications, and requests. This situation is unprecedented, and the number of people and businesses impacted are unlike anything our systems have ever experienced. I equate this to a small business that normally has 100 customers in one day and suddenly with little warning, 2,000 customers appear at the door wanting service immediately – the sheer volume would overwhelm employees and the business’ systems.

What Can You Do?

Knowing this doesn’t lessen concern about getting needed help.  Here are a few thoughts as you work through this:

Breathe

Take a deep breath and take some time to read the material available on both loan programs to understand how they work so you can make the best decision for your business. You’ll find some resources on the Chamber’s website to help.

Gather

Gathering any needed documentation including up-to-date financial reports in advance is helpful to you and your banker. The more prepared you are, the better.

Decide

To decide which loan program(s) work best for your business, this infographic will give you a quick overview. We have recorded virtual meetings on our website that will provide you with more specifics.  We also encourage you to talk with your accountant to get advice specific to your business.

EIDL Loan

The application for the EIDL loan package is on this website.  It’s a simple 3-page application that takes about 15 minutes to complete.  Have your personal and business info ready – EIN, and the past 12 months gross revenue, cost of goods sold, and operating expenses.  Current experience is that you will receive a confirmation number immediately (keep it on file); however, at this time the advance is not being deposited within three days and responses from the SBA are delayed.  They are working on this – know that it will take some time.

PPP Loan

To apply for the PPP loan program, you’ll need to contact a banker.  You’ll find a list of banks on the SBA website.  To help you prepare to apply, you may find this Small Business Guide and Checklist helpful as well as this sample loan application.  Know that banks are overwhelmed with calls, questions, and applications.  It may take longer than in the past for your banker to assist you. 

Though following these steps will not ensure immediate responses, it will place you in the best position possible.  Understanding the process, having your questions ready, having documentation gathered, updating your financials, and approaching this in a professional manner will go a long way to helping you get the help you need. 

If the Chamber can assist you during this time, please reach out to us.  Above all, please take care of yourself during this time.

Take care,

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