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Small business owners experience challenges applying for Paycheck Protection Program loan

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 6:09 PM CDT
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Sen.Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) wants the Trump administration to work on smoothing out reported issues with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan available to small business owners.

A statement the senator sent to Action 2 News on Thursday afternoon reads in part, "I've heard from lenders in Wisconsin that are frustrated and confused with the rollout of this program and unable to make loans. I have also heard from small businesses that can't access loans."

The Astor House Bed & Breakfast in Green Bay is one of those businesses.

"We're just holding on to faith and hope there will be help coming down the line," said Linda Steber of Astor House Bed & Breakfast.

Tom and Linda Steber have spent days filling out "mounds" of paperwork trying to get a PPP loan offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

"It's kind of like finding a group of folks who are hungry and saying, 'We have some food to give you, but it's locked up over here and you can't get it,'" said Steber. "That's what it feels like."

The couple has struggled to find an approved lender to process their loan paperwork.

"We have certainly seen some financial institutions choose not to at all accept applications from someone they do not currently do business with," said Tim Hoff, Senior Vice President of Business Services at Community First Credit Union. "That is not the approach we've taken."

Hoff says Community First Credit Union has received hundreds of applications from small business owners for PPP loans since last Friday.

While other institutions have already funded some of the loans, Community First Credit Union hopes to start early next week.

"There are elements of this process that we are still learning about daily. We are getting multiple updates per day from the SBA," said Hoff.

After some frustration, the owner of Home Burger Bar in Appleton feels like she is on track after filing an application through a local credit union she banks with. An email to Action 2 News reads in part, "It's clear to me that our local banks were thrown into this with very little instruction, just as us small business owners have been. It's frustrating, but I know that we are all doing the best we can given the current situation."

The Stebers have also reached out to their banks. Although they are not listed on the SBA website, they are hanging on to "a glimmer of hope."

"Don't give up because you heard no two or three times or four times or ten times," said Steber. "The money is there, and we just have to forge a path to get from the small business to the pile of funds that they're putting out there for people hungry for some financial help."

Hoff asks small business owners applying for the PPP loans to have patience during the process.

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