An emergency loan program intended to get money swiftly into the hands of small businesses has all but collapsed under an unprecedented crush of applications and a shortage of funds, overwhelming agency officials and prompting urgent calls for action on Capitol Hill. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, or EIDL, a long-standing program run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), is separate from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses that is the subject of a political fight on Capitol Hill. The federal government normally doles out EIDL loans to small businesses hurt by tornadoes and wildfires. On March 12, the SBA expanded the program to help entrepreneurs hurt by the coronavirus, offering low-interest loans of up to $2 million.
Applying for PPP loans is urgent; but how do you sift through 10,400 banks and credit unions for ones that are more likely than others to take and process your application? Relying mostly on publicly available data, Mighty's platform profiles all 5,200 banks in the country, highlighting each bank's connections — or the lack thereof — to specific causes, communities and underserved small businesses. Many of those businesses are currently scrambling to find a bank willing to take their application for one of the new Paycheck Protection Program loans. Mighty just started keeping a list of its bank partners who are accepting applications for the new Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans. It’s not a very long list right now, but they expect it to grow. There’s also CapNexus, a platform run by the nonprofit Partners for the Common Good. It currently lists a curated set of 501 financial institutions, some of which are banks and credit unions, some of which are loan funds.
Minority business owners have always struggled to secure bank loans. Now, many banks want to deal only with existing customers when making loans through the government's $349 billion aid package. Anticipating that minority business owners could struggle to tap federal aid, some lawmakers are proposing ways to earmark additional funds specifically for minority-owned businesses. And on Wednesday, a group of prominent black investors, including John W. Rogers Jr., the billionaire co-chief executive of Ariel Investments, a mutual fund manager, sent a letter to lawmakers expressing concern that the emergency loan program was already leaving black borrowers behind.
CDBA CEO Jeannine Jacokes wrote to the House Financial Services and Small Business Committees urging that the next recovery package addressing the current health and economic crisis provide meaningful support for low- and moderate-income communities. To ensure resources are directed to the most severely impacted people and places, CDBA asks that Congress provide $1 billion for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, direct the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to create a meaningful set-a-side within its Main Street program for CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and ensure that half of any further funding for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program is specifically earmarked for CDFIs, MDIs and small banks under $10 billion that will target the resources for borrowers in low- and moderate-income communities.
Major banking trades, including the Community Development Bankers Association (CDBA), American Bankers Association (ABA), Bank Policy Institute (BPI), Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), National Bankers Association (NBA), and National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders (NAAHL), are collectively urging Congress to appropriate $1 billion for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to aid in economic recovery in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In letters to House and Senate leadership, as well as Appropriations Committees, Financial Services and General Government Subcommittees, and authorizing committees, the banking trades described the CDFI industry's track record of promoting economic stabilization, job preservation and creation, and addressing community needs that would enable them to effectively channel federal funds into the low-income communities they serve.
President Trump on Tuesday praised some of the country's largest financial firms for pledging to take new steps to help small businesses disrupted by the coronavirus. Trump heralded their plans as he hosted a video conference with leaders of banks, including Darrin Williams of Southern Bancorp. You can view the video call here; Williams begins speaking around 6:30. The participants — who also included executives from community banks — have been helping the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration distribute $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Community banks are eager to make loans to help their small-business customers stay afloat while the economy remains shut down due to social distancing, but many face a significant hurdle: They don't have enough deposits on hand to meet loan demand. As a result, small banks have been turning with more frequency to deposit placement firms like StoneCastle Partners in New York to help to secure the funding they need to offer bridge loans or participate in the federal government’s emergency small-business loan program. In the last week, Farmers & Merchants Bank in Miamisburg, Ohio, has gone to its “absolute max” to draw $18 million from StoneCastle so it can quickly get loans into the hands of business clients suffering from the economic shocks of the coronavirus outbreak, said CEO Shon Myers.
Websites have crashed, phones are jammed and confusion reigns as businesses rushed at today's kickoff to get their chunk of the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program. This is a race to save jobs in the present and the future, and to ensure that as many workers as possible keep their benefits and paychecks during the coronavirus lockdown. Because many banks only are accepting existing business clients, and some other banks aren't processing PPP loans at all, it's likely that many small businesses will get left out because they picked the "wrong" bank years ago.
The Federal Reserve will temporarily stop all examination activity for banks with less than $100 billion of assets as it shifts supervisory priorities due to the coronavirus pandemic, the central bank said Tuesday. The Fed is shifting its supervisory focus to monitoring and outreach to "help financial institutions of all sizes understand the challenges and risks of the current environment." The agency said it will be minimizing examination activities in order to do so, with the greatest reduction at smallest banks. The temporary shift will last until at least the end of April, when the Fed will reassess whether conditions have changed.
CDBA and the major banking trades wrote congressional leaders to strongly urge that the provisions which would enhance and incentivize SBA's 7(a) loan program be included in the final CARES Act legislation. Private-sector banks and credit unions, whether they currently participate in SBA lending or not, will be turning to the SBA’s 7(a) loan program as the way to deliver capital and economic relief to the economy while conventional lending recedes in the wake of the current economic turmoil. However, in order to quickly stimulate essential lending, lenders need the tried and true enhancements that would encourage banks and credit unions to lend and borrowers to seek capital now.