PITTSFIELD – The application deadline for the second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program opened on Monday, but currently only one financial institution in Berkshire is eligible to serve those in need.
Greylock Federal Credit Union was able to begin receiving PPP applications for the first drawing on Monday and the second drawing on Wednesday as it is the only certified Community Development Financial Institution in Berkshire, according to the US Small Business Administration.
Greylock is online Application portal opens on Monday afternoon, said Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, Senior Vice President of the credit union. Priority will be given to businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other underserved members of the community, as well as existing Greylock business members.
Certification is awarded by the CDFI Fund to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to those who do not have access to finance. The federal government only allows specially designated municipal lenders like Greylock, who focus on underserved communities, to start processing PPP loans now, as these groups either struggled to get funding or it was in the first two sections of the first round of the Completely missed the program last year.
“You were eligible to participate in the first round,” said Rathbun-Briggs. “But I think the information about your eligibility did not reach you in time. By the time some borrowers found out they were eligible, the money was gone. “
Originally approved under the CARES Act, the PPP offers refundable loans to small businesses to help them retain and pay employees. The first round closed in August after $ 523 billion was distributed to more than 5 million companies. Congress approved an additional $ 284 billion through March 31 for a second round of PPP loan funding under last month’s stimulus package.
“I think under the CARES act they were working very, very quickly with limited information,” said Rathbun-Briggs. “When they opened the PPP round in the summer it was better and they had a couple of days on hold to allow smaller requests to get through, but I think Congress and the Trump administration heard loud and clear that they needed to give more access . ”
Updated PPP guidelines with program changes to improve effectiveness and accessibility were released on January 6th in accordance with the Law on Economic Aid to Hard-hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues. Lenders classified as minority depository institutions were also eligible to receive PPP loan applications as of Monday. But Berkshire County has no such institutions, and only two are in the state of Massachusetts – one in Arlington and the other in Boston, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
By Monday, the government still had to set a schedule for when larger banks and lenders could start processing the second round of PPP loans. On Friday, the SBA stated that the decision will be made “shortly”.
“Greylock’s focus on community development and our appointment as CDFI represent a unique commitment for us to provide access to the PPP program as soon as possible,” said Rathbun-Briggs.