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Some loans to help small businesses approved

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Small business loan funds designed to help businesses survive the coronavirus emergency have been approved for some local businesses, according to a Roswell banker and a Small Business Development Center representative.

“Approvals are just now coming in,” said Scott Bucher, director of the local Small Business Development Center. “Next week is going to be a big week.”

Bucher said he has worked with about 20 potential borrowers a day during the last week, both for the local area and for SBDC clients statewide. For the two weeks prior to that, he worked with about 15 applicants a day.

He can assist business owners who want to apply either for the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan, which comes directly from the SBA and can be applied for online, or the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which is an SBA-guaranteed loan program but must go through qualified lenders for funding. Other SBA loan programs are also available, but these two programs are geared specifically for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“A lot of my clients are doing both,” Bucher said.

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He explained that the programs have different criteria and different funding timelines, with the disaster loan funds expected more quickly in most instances.

He said that his office is holding four or five webcasts a day to inform people and answer questions, as well as handling confidential matters in separate calls.

He said the statewide network aims to resolve questions and handle all customer inquiries within a day.

“We are able to handle the volume,” he said. “We’ve become more efficient in the way we do things.”

The PPP loan program was launched April 3, but large commercial banks reported a lot of problems for the first couple of days. Some community banks were able to process loans immediately after the program launch.

Pioneer Bank, which has been an SBA qualified lender for some time, is making PPP loans, according to President Christopher Palmer.

“We’ve been having a lot of success (this week) getting loans approved through the SBA,” he said.

He said that loan officers had some initial problems with intermittent “freezing” of the PPP computerized lending system, but the main issues involved verifying loan application criteria and documentation, which is different for the new program than for standard SBA loan programs.

“We’ve had several hundred” loan applications, he said. “We probably have had over a hundred in Roswell, and much more in Las Cruces.”

He said they are trying to help as many potential borrowers as possible, but will give preference to current customers and borrowers.

Congress has allocated $349 billion for the Payroll Protection Program. Palmer said he thinks Congress and the U.S. Treasury will ensure adequate funding if nationwide demand exceeds the initial funding amount.

“I personally feel pretty good about the fact that everyone who qualifies will get money,” he said.

Bucher said that funds for qualified loan applicants who applied a few weeks ago with the SBA should be seen in the coming week, and that the SBDC is prepared to work on the loans through the end of June.

Bucher described the loan application process for both programs as “very simple, very easy.”

He said the EIDL loan is a five-step process and the PPP is a two-page application. Only two or three pieces of documentation are needed: 2018 tax returns, a form allowing the SBA to obtain 2019 IRS information, and, in the case of the PPP, a 2019 profit-and-loss statement.

Information about the loan programs is available on the SBA website, www.sba.gov.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.