Jen Morrow is eagerly awaiting an update from her community bank, Sandy Spring, on a $30,000 loan request for her book store, Bards Alley, in Vienna, Virginia.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Morrow has gone from 12 employees to a staff of just three, including herself, as her bookstore — typically filled with book clubs, customers in the cafe and a community of readers — is now empty. She’s gotten creative, delivering books to homebound customers via bicycle with a neighboring bike business. Meanwhile, she is hoping and waiting to hear about her loan.
“I am trying to run this business every day with a skeleton crew, worried about my staff who are at home, and now I am holding my breath because I have no idea if I will even get a loan,” Morrow said. “There’s not blame anywhere … I just don’t know how long it will take to review my application and get the money.”
The government’s $350 billion loan program is aimed at assisting small businesses hurt by the measures that have been taken to stem the spread of COVID-19. Since the program started, Morrow and other small business owers are anxiously awaiting notice from their lenders about loan approvals and are eager to see the much-needed lifelines show up in their bank accounts.
While entrepreneurs rushed to get applications in to lenders on Friday, when the Payroll Protection Program rolled out, banks are slowly working to disburse loans. Some banks say more guidance is still needed from the Small Business Administration before moving forward, while others say they are not yet ready to process loans but are accepting applications. Government officials had touted loans being made available as soon as same-day, before the program, which is typically $20 billion a year, got up and running.
Jason Duff, founder of Small Nation, a company that works to revitalize small cities and towns, has been working with Bellefontaine, Ohio, to open up consumer-facing businesses in the city over the last few years. He is working with Richwood Bank, which told him and his business associate Adam Rammel, owner of local tap room Brewfontaine, that they had been approved and their loans have an SBA number.
“They told us, ‘you have been approved by the SBA and we will be funding a separate account that you can draw from just as soon as the SBA gives us guidance on if they need us to have you sign anything before distributing funds,’ ” Duff said. “That seems to be the last step and what’s holding things up to get the money.”
As of Monday afternoon, the SBA said more than 2,400 lenders were able to participate in the program, up from 1,800 at program launch. A senior administration official also said that beginning Monday the administration would be offering a lender hotline and its 68 district offices across the country would be available to assist lenders.
But some lenders are holding back. Fountainhead…