PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Small business owners are desperate for loans to carry them through the COVID-19 crisis, but some say they can’t find a bank where they can apply. On Friday, the federal government rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program to help businesses retain employees, but some institutions have maxed out applications while others have specific criteria for eligibility.
“We sit up late at night worrying if things are going to get paid, how we’re going to pay them, where the next job is coming from,” says Shane Mader, owner of Safehouse Security Systems. “There’s (sic) a lot of sleepless nights when you’re an employer."
Mader turned to Wells Fargo, where he holds many accounts but found a message online saying the institution was no longer accepting applications.
“They were no longer accepting applications because of the overwhelming response,” says Mader. “I checked it all weekend and there was never anywhere for me to apply.”
It’s the same story for Jenna and Douglas Carter, owners of Elevated Metal.
“We’ve just maintained because we had money in reserves, you know, like to keep going but we are coming to the end of that,” says Jenna.
Small business owners turning to other banks hit some roadblocks as well. The Chase website to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program was temporarily down and those looking to apply through Bank of America had to meet certain criteria.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan that can be fully forgiven if a business keeps all of its employees for eight weeks. It’s relief, the Carters say, that can keep their workers afloat.
“It’s heartwrenching to me because all these guys have families,” says Jenna. “They all have families that they need to take care of, too.”
Millions of small business owners could apply for forgivable loans through the government's new stimulus plan, according to senior administration officials.
Mader contacted his local chamber of commerce, which sent him a list of smaller banking institutions that may still be accepting applications. Some institutions required him to have a previous relationship with them. Mader says he has already heard back from one of the banks directing him to a website to submit his application.
The success of the multi-trillion-dollar life raft that was floated into the cascading waves of business closures, job losses and the virtual shutdown of the US economy will likely be determined this week.
“We need some kind of money to use as a resource now to help our employees and get us through this time,” says Mader.
Both Mader and the Carters say they wish there was better communication from government officials on where to start when trying to apply for the funds which come at a first-come, first-served basis. Arizona's Family's calls and emails to the Small Business Administration on Monday were not answered.
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