Spokane Bank Executive Helps Nationwide Deployment of Small Business Aid
In the grip of an overwhelming response and an unstable computer system, the United States Small Business Administration has yet to disburse any of the $ 349 billion in relief to help small business owners weather the coronavirus pandemic.
But Greg Deckard, president and CEO of State Bank Northwest of Spokane, said he was confident the issues would be resolved soon. Deckard, who is the treasurer of the Independent Community Bankers of America, took part in a conference call Tuesday with President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Trump, Mnuchin, and SBA administrator Jovita Carranza told Deckard and others that the SBA approved 225,000 loans totaling around $ 70 billion, but details are still being worked out. how this money through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, will be distributed.
“They hear our concerns and allocate all available resources to make this program a success,” Deckard said. “So while it’s frustrating in the details, it’s an extraordinary deployment of a program in this short period of time. “
On Monday, Jack Heath, chairman and chief operating officer of Spokane-based Washington Trust Bank, took said he expected the $ 349 billion set aside by Congress could all be cast by the end of the week. Deckard agreed.
“Even as we approach that congressional limit… both sides of the aisle indicate they will provide an additional $ 250 billion,” Deckard said.
Deckard said he was told the US Senate should consider a consent vote on Thursday, with the House of Representatives considering a similar vote, to extend the program by an additional $ 250 billion on Friday.
“This means there is still time to submit your application,” Deckard said. “And there is still adequate funding available. “
Jeff McDonald, president of Mead-based Miramac Metals Inc., said he contacted Deckard on Tuesday. He got approval for an SBA loan through the SBA One Hour Paycheck Protection Program.
“I’m not sure if anyone can tell how quickly the money will end up in the bank,” McDonald said. “But if you’ve done anything with the SBA before, it’s amazing.”
The program is designed to enable owners of businesses with 500 or fewer employees to secure funds to keep employees on the payroll, so businesses will be ready to go as soon as government officials end the payroll. order of stay at home.
The McDonald’s company, which manufactures and distributes steel roofing in the area, said it has around 30 employees. It remained in business but orders fell.
“The purpose of this money is to go directly to the employees,” he said. “The employees are incredibly grateful, of course. “
Bob and Barb Materne, owners of The Swinging Doors restaurant for nearly 39 years, said it took them a week before Deckard called last weekend to tell them they had gotten approval from ‘an SBA loan.
“We were a successful restaurant. But you don’t succeed when you’re closed, ”said Bob Materne, who turned 72 on Tuesday. “It’s not a golden egg type thing. We are working hard. When you close it, there is no money to pay the bills when you have about 40 employees. “
Their daughter, Lisa Emery, manages the restaurant at 1018 W. Francis Ave. and called the state unemployment office so many times that she memorized the number, they said. About a dozen of their employees have worked at the restaurant for more than two decades.
When Deckard called with SBA approval, “it was a sigh of relief,” Materne said. “My daughter said, ‘Daddy, we can relax a bit now.’ We are relieved that we can move forward and survive this coronavirus pandemic. We want to be there for another 25 years or more.
Deckard said he and his staff worked non-stop, including all weekend, to process loan applications from businesses in the Spokane area.
“It was overwhelming,” he said. “The response to the rollout of this program has been tremendous for our small business clients and non-clients. “
But Mnuchin didn’t help matters when he announced Thursday that businesses should be able to apply for and receive loans quickly. “You get the money, you get it the same day,” he said.
Some five days later, federal officials still hadn’t fully explained how the federal government would handle a pledge-of-forgiveness provision as long as companies used at least 75% of loans to retain or rehire workers.
While he doesn’t want to directly criticize Mnuchin, Deckard said the secretary’s statement last week put the bankers’ reputation on the line.
“When the administration initially says that you can go to your bank, apply for a loan, and receive same-day funding when the details of the program haven’t even been determined yet, it gives the impression… that the problem is comes from the individual financial institution, ”said Deckard. “This is where it needs to be clarified.”
Despite this confusion, Deckard praised federal leaders for their willingness to do something for business owners affected by the pandemic.
“Three weeks ago, we were on the phone with Senator Marco Rubio’s staff, providing feedback to his bill,” Deckard said. “The devil is always in the details, but the concept was good. “
The program is based on 2.5 times the payroll of a business owner for the previous year. Owners must show how many employees they had, proof of their business license, and receipts for how much they paid their employees.
“There are a few catches,” Deckard said. “You can’t reduce your employee’s workload… drastically from what it was before the program. In other words, you can’t… grab the profits and not hire all of these people. “
Second, if a company had 100 full-time employees, the owner cannot get PPP money and then convert all those employees to part-time status, he said.
“The goal of the program is to keep people out of work and to keep the economy going.”
Federal officials have been slow to sign banks and credit unions that were not previously incorporated as SBA lenders.
At the same time, Deckard strives to raise funds for local businesses, he also helps represent the 3,500 credit institutions that are part of his organization.
During his call with Trump, Deckard said an informal poll showed that a third of all community banks still do not have access to SBA loans under the Preferred Lender Program portal.
“We were one of the first to access the portal,” he said. “But it has been a major frustration for banks across the country who have been excluded from the portal.”
Deckard, a 36-year banker, said he had never seen this kind of mad rush for financing.
“The great banking crisis of 2008 was a pretty wild time. It’s 10 times more frantic for bankers.
But he said the long hours paid off.
“One of the greatest joys I have as a community banker is when I make one of these calls… the funds come in,” he said. “The absolute joy and relief these small business owners have expressed to us… are worth it. “