Small business blunder: Owners await round 2 of PPP funding


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — “Everybody’s experiences seems to be slightly different, but frustration and anxiety, a lot of anxiety is the name of the game.”

John Clark, “roast master” and owner of Vienna Coffee, started his day with a huge sigh of relief — one many small business owners take when the loan they were approved for through the Paycheck Protection Program comes through.

Clark applied early in the morning on April 3rd, the first day to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and though he was proactive, with all the necessary paperwork filed, he only received one of the two loans he applied for.

Both loans had been approved, but the well of money to support small business owners quickly ran dry.

“Every little bit helps, so it was a big relief to see that we were approved for one of the loans and an even bigger relief when it hit the bank this morning so I can breathe easily now,” Clark said.

The experience of obtaining the loan varies across the board for small businesses in need.

Clark says his brother-in-law, who owns a local print shop in Knoxville, received his money quicker than he did, leaving him anxious thinking “oh no, something’s wrong.” The coffee company owner also knows of a small business owner who applied for three loans for each of his businesses, and did not receive a single loan.

President and chief executive officer of Smart Bank, Billy Carroll says the process of obtaining a loan through PPP varies amongst banks, which caused some frustration.

“I’ve heard a lot of frustration through the different communities because different banks had different processes,” Carroll notes, “all [of] the banks were working extremely hard to try to get people through, but some just didn’t have the success that others did and I think that caused some frustrations.”

Carroll noted Smart Bank had a “pretty good process laid out” saying the bank processed about 1,700 applications, about 240 million dollars in loan through the course of that week.

Once the process began, the money quickly ran dry. Carroll said there was not a “playbook” for the Small Business Administration nor the banks and once the banks figured out the process, the pool of money dried up in about ten days and the entire process created a frenzy–leaving some businesses out the dry.

While a second round of loans is close to getting approved on the federal level, Carroll urges small business owners who qualified and did not make it in the first round, to get their applications into their respective banks now.

“The money from round one ran out fairly fast and so we anticipate round two going quick as well, so getting in the queue at your bank is really, really critical,” said Carroll.

For small businesses owners with applications in their bank’s “queue,” Carroll encourages people to call the banks to find out their status.

When it comes to receiving the money to help small businesses, especially in a timely manner, both Carroll and Clark say it’s critical.

“When you get an opportunity to do a program like this,” Carroll says,”it can make the difference between those businesses keeping employees on or having to the lay them off.”

“You can’t operate at 80% and have 100% of payroll without something giving,” Clark says,” so the PPP is that help for the next eight weeks. So that gives us eight weeks to figure out the new operating model–opening back up on the first without…. help I can’t even quite imagine how that would work.”


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