Small Summit County businesses jockey for Paycheck Protection Program funding in second round
DILLON — The second round of the Paycheck Protection Program began Monday, April 27. After Congress approved $310 billion for the second round of funding late last week, banks were notified that the portal to submit applications would open at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Banks across America have been trying to submit applications since the portal opened, which bogged down the system. Alpine Bank Regional President Matt Hanson said the process had been slow going throughout Monday morning. He said he anticipates staff might have better luck submitting applications in the wee hours of the night, as they did in the first round.
Hanson said Alpine Bank employees worked over the weekend to prepare applications on file from the last round. Some of those applications were ready to be submitted but didn’t make the cutoff while others were still in the process of being completed when the funding ran out. Hanson said the first priority was to get these applications submitted.
“Banks around the country were ready to do the same thing we were doing,” Hanson said. “You’re going to see this amount of funding burn through really quick.”
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FirstBank’s Summit County Market President Nick Brinkman said his bank is undergoing a similar process. He said the bank reopened its portal for applications Thursday night and had received 1,200 applications as of 4 p.m. Friday. With leftover applications from the first phase, the bank has 4,000 applications to submit.
“When the initial wave of funding ran out of money or was exhausted, we continued to process the applications that were in our portal that either came in after the first round was exhausted or we were unable to process because they were incomplete or for some other reason,” Brinkman said.
Brinkman said FirstBank also had been experiencing “clunkiness” and “slowness” in the portal Monday because banks were ready to go when the portal opened. By Monday afternoon, he said the bank was already getting some approvals.
Businesses hope for funding
As banks work to get their customers’ applications in, business owners who didn’t receive money from the first round of funding hope they have better luck this time.
Frankie Fiedler-Vaartjes, owner of Corpus Sanus Spa in Silverthorne, said she applied for the first round right away but was not given a loan before the funding ran out. She said her application is in for the second round. However, Fiedler-Vaartjes said she is skeptical of the loan because a significant portion must be spent on payroll. She said it could be difficult to reestablish her employees because many might have left the area. Fiedler-Vaartjes said she is much more concerned about paying her rent, which the loan is not targeted toward.
Seth Lyons — who co-owns several Which Wich sandwich shops, including the locations in Silverthorne and Frisco — said he has had to work with larger banks, which he feels have “dropped the ball” on his application. Lyons has been told his applications — which have been submitted through Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank — are awaiting Small Business Administration approval. However, he said he has not received much other communication from the banks.
“When this is all said and done, I will not bank with big banks again at all,” Lyons said. “They’ve been awful to work with. … They don’t care about us.”
Although Lyons’ shops are still open for takeout orders, their sales have dropped significantly, like many other businesses in Summit County. Lyons said that on a typical spring break day, the sandwich shops would bring in $5,000 in sales. Now, it’s around $300. He noted that the Silverthorne shop is typically his top performing store, including locations in Denver and Albuquerque, but with the shutdown, Silverthorne’s Which Wich takeout operation has done worse than the shops in Denver. He said he is most concerned about rehiring people once the stores are able to reopen because much of his staff has left the area.
How long will it last?
The first round of Paycheck Protection Program funding allocated $349 billion, and funding dried up in less than two weeks. With slightly less funding for the second round, the question is: How much more demand is there, and how much time do people have before it runs out?
Hanson said that in the first round, things started off slow. But by the end, banks were burning through $50 billon to $60 billion per day. This time, banks are hitting the ground running. Brinkman said banks won’t be able to have a good handle on how the pace of this round of funding will compare to the last for a few days, but he noted that the pace of applications coming in has been slower than in the first round.
“Logically, you would think that … the funds may be exhausted a little bit more quickly just because there are so many applications nationwide that are in the queue, but then the other piece of that is, well, they’re smaller loan amounts so maybe the funds will last a little bit longer,” Brinkman said.
In Summit County and the surrounding region, Hanson said the bank is seeing about half the interest it saw in the first round. He said the biggest difference the bank is seeing is an influx of applications from independent contractors and sole proprietors, which were able to start the process for the first round April 10. By April 16, the money was gone.
“You couldn’t move through the queue fast enough,” Hanson said. “They were at the end of a very long line.”
While independent contractors were at the tail end of the first round, many are in a good spot for the second round as applications are already on file or in the process. Brinkman said the vast majority of applications the bank is seeing are for smaller businesses, independent contractors and sole proprietors and that the bank is seeing smaller loan amounts in this second phase. However, even in the first phase, Brinkman said that the median loan amount was $38,000 and that 5,000 of the 8,000 loans the bank funded were for amounts of $50,000 or less.
“Even in that first round, we were still seeing smaller businesses get a significant chunk of the funding that we were providing,” Brinkman said.
Once the banks get applications in, they wait for a confirmation number from the Small Business Administration. Hanson said this number indicates to the bank that funding has been approved.
“Once we start getting those approvals in, we’ll turn around and get the loans funded,” Hanson said.
Brinkman said the bank has received a lot of questions from small-business owners asking what they could do to be prepared before the portal opened. He said staff is encouraging people to visit their lender’s website for information, to try and work with a local lender with whom the business already has a relationship and to have all of their documents in order before going to submit their application. He also recommended that businesses research other relief options in case they aren’t able to receive the paycheck loan.
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