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Businesses, banks having major issues with SBA disaster relief loans

While the federal government is offering assistance to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus – filing for it has become a logistical nightmare.

Filing for the assistance through the Small Business Administration has been frustrating and time-consuming, according to some small business owners because of the high-volume of traffic.

It’s a similar problem that the New York State Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance website dealt with at the start of this public health crisis.

But people aren’t the only ones having issues. Banks are, too.

“We jumped right on it and we’re trying to move these dollars fast,” said Charles Vita, vice president and chief lending officer at Canandaigua National Bank. “We’ve had some challenges.”

Paychecks Protection Program Loans (PPP) are now offered through the SBA. Businesses can borrow up to $10 million at 1 percent interest to make payroll and keep the lights on. Payments don’t begin for six months, and if those funds are used for approved expenses then it turns into grant money.

“It’s about making sure they can maintain the payroll the business would have in normal operations,” said Vita. He also says that since the announcement the rules for the loans have changed three times.

“The SBA website had some challenges, and we’ve recently been able to add people and process applications faster,” said Vita.

For CNB they received 250 approvals for local businesses. A total of 1,200 applications are in the approval process. Approved applications require additional steps before the money exchanges hands.

CNB requires applicants to have a checking account at the bank to facilitate the transfer of the money and documentation that can later be used to apply for debt forgiveness. Seven weeks after receiving the money, businesses can use receipts to request portions of the loan be converted to grants.

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