Today, we saw the real rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program, a lifeline for businesses that have taken a body blow from efforts to fight coronavirus.
The emergency small business loan program, aimed at getting staff back to work, formally kicked off on Friday. As expected, lenders were deluged while awaiting further guidance from the Small Business Administration.
A total of $4.3 billion in loans were approved, the SBA reported over the weekend. It amounted to a trickle from the $350 billion program.
Over the weekend, banks worked feverishly to prepare for today.
Wilmington-based WSFS, after first indicating that it would be ready to take applications at mid-week, announced it is ready today. M&T also confirmed a Monday rollout.
In most cases, checking or loan customers of banks will get priority. Nearly all businesses have such relationships.
The issue that remains is whether small businesses with the greatest need can get help in time.
SBA and lenders will need to take a page from emergency room procedure and set up a triage program that works on the basis of greatest need.
Some small enterprises will not survive while other businesses may be in better shape but need a quick boost to get their staffs off the sidelines.
In the meantime, lenders are counseling patience when it comes to all COVID-19 programs. The loan funnel is small and even the most aggressive programs will need time to go into full operation.
For some businesses, time has already run out and you will see some sad news on this site and others in the coming weeks and months.
Stay safe and if at all possible, stay home. This newsletter returns on Tuesday, with breaking news updates when warranted. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.