Small business owners wait, and hope, for government aid

ajc.com

Two weeks after Congress gave final approval to a $2 trillion emergency Coronavirus economic rescue package, many small business owners in the U.S. hope the coming days will bring good news in their bank accounts, as they wait for answers on their requests for billions of dollars in special small business aid from Uncle Sam.

A simple question posed on Facebook unleashed a torrent of stories on Friday from hard-working Americans who have suddenly found their work lives knocked off stride by the virus outbreak.

For some, applying for emergency help with the Small Business Administration through the Paycheck Protection Program has gone smoothly - for others, it's been a nightmare involving multiple banks and financial institutions.

"The first one said they were helping their customers first, then would get to applications from non-customers later if there was money left," said Scott Robbins, who runs the amateur radio company Vibroplex.

Robbins says he's tried 13 different lenders - with no luck.

The various loans have also sparked confusion, as people can apply for "Economic Injury Disaster Loans," the Paycheck Protection Program, the regular SBA 7(a) loan program, and other options.

"I applied for the $10,000 emergency and have not heard anything back," said Charles Kuehl, who runs two barbecue restaurants near Atlanta. "Did the PPP earlier this week with my credit union and have not heard back."

"I applied for the EIDL loan which was to include a $10,000 guaranteed advance last week with zero response," said Grant Merrill, a small business owner from Oklahoma, who said he needed money for employee payroll next week.

"Applied for an EIDL loan and advance last Saturday. We received a confirmation number after submitting but have not heard anything beyond that," said Ian Fuller, who helps run a family bakery in Ohio.

"I’m a contract accountant for a number of companies," said Bruce Mills of Georgia. "Applied for 5 companies plus my own. Heard nothing from any of them."

"Applied for EIDL on 3/30. Received a confirmation of submission. Crickets since," said Jim Brown, who runs an inn in Maine.

Only a handful of people who responded to my question said they had received aid so far.

"We applied for the PPP loan and our bank told us last Friday we were approved," said Courtney Milford of Georgia. "We got the funds on April 6."

"Our accountant is working with our local bank, and tells me that we should be getting our PPP payment next week, and everything looks to be a go," said Matthew Hahn, a doctor in West Virginia.

"I applied for PPP on Monday and was funded yesterday," said Jeremy Jones, a small business owner in Oklahoma.

"We applied online Saturday for PPP and it was funded yesterday," said Robert Brown, also from Oklahoma. "It is in our account."

"These are challenging times for small businesses across the country," the Small Business Administration tweeted on Friday.

And for many small business owners this weekend - they aren't sure what's next.

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