June 30 is the last day for businesses to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans, which have been lifesavers for thousands of small businesses trying to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the program has been running smoothly, though hiccups have been reported here and there. An Orange County business owner turned to NBC4’s I-Team when she experienced a PPP setback of her own.
Janelle Caldwell has run her tutoring business for 15 years, but like so many other small businesses, her revenue stream came to a screeching halt back in March.
“When schools were announced to be closed, parents just freaked out,” she said. “And almost immediately – within 24 hours – I was like, I’m going to have to shut down my business.”
Caldwell was approved for a PPP loan through the lender MBE Capital Partners, which she found online. However, once approved, Caldwell had no luck getting her money. MBE Capital ignored her calls and emails for weeks.
“I kept asking for weeks, just cancel it. Let me get funded through this other bank. Just let it go. And you couldn’t get a hold of anybody,” she lamented.
Other small business owners voiced similar complaints online. One post reads, “No funding and no response. And another: “Seriously stressing over this!”
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Some who did get their checks from MBE Capital say they bounced.
The I-Team reached out to MBE Capital Partners, and the next day, Caldwell received $30,000.
MBE Capital released a statement claiming that it has funded more than 2,800 loans, doling out more than $75 million. The lender cited the high volume of applications and glitches with its partner bank as causes of the delays.
Small business advocates say if your lender isn’t responsive, cut them loose.
“If you’re just not getting anywhere, try again with another lender,” suggested Holly Wade of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Business owners may also apply with several lenders at the same time, as long as they follow the guidelines. The Federation of Independent Businesses notes that many small businesses, such as self-employed people and independent contractors, don’t even realize that they qualify for PPP funds. There is reportedly still $124 billion of funding available.
“It really has been a great program for so many small business owners,” Wade added. “It’s helped them immensely.”
As for Caldwell, her reopening has been slow.
“Even though I’m reopened, technically, I’m half capacity,” she said. “How does my business survive that? I still have 100% of my bills. So it’s a scary time. Although I’m ridiculously excited to be back.”
Caldwell added that her PPP has been a lifeline, describing the loan as her saving grace.
While some banks aren’t taking any more PPP applications, many are. Check community banks and online lenders like Paypal and Intuit.