Small businesses face obstacles in the Paycheck Protection Program application process

GRAND RAPIDS – Small businesses can start applying for the Paycheck Protection Program starting Friday, April 3rdapprox.

The program is part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress last month.

However, some West Michigan business owners say they have completed their application but are already encountering some obstacles with their banks or lenders.

Many large banks such as Bank of America, Chase and JP Morgan have said they are working on processing these applications, but first they need to get their respective online portal systems up and running.

The owners of midwest air filter, Marcie and Jonathan Shoham said that figuring out what loans to apply for and the constantly changing rules and policies was overwhelming for them.

The couple have been selling and manufacturing commercial, residential and industrial air filters together for 16 years and the company itself has been in business for 70 years.

Marcie Shoham, President of Midwest Air Filter, said, “Right now most of our businesses are closed unless it’s a food processor or a hospital.”

They tell FOX 17 they’ve done everything they can to keep their business afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, including filing for the Paycheck Protection Program.

“We have everything put together, we are just awaiting guidance from our SBA lender. It’s not as simple as ‘Submit here and here’s your money’.”

The Small Business Administration’s nearly $350 billion program forgives all loans if companies keep their employees on payroll for 8 weeks and they use the money only for payroll, rent or mortgage and utilities.

“I’d like to be able to bring my people back,” Marcie Shoham said.

Like many others, the Shohams are seeing their banks slow down.

Marcie Shoham said: “Last night we were able to submit the applications directly to our SBA lender at our bank, then at 11pm he sent an email and said, ‘No, there will be a portal where you submit it now have to.’ ”

That’s what Ed Garner, the regional director of Michigan Small Business Development Centerr expected.

He said: “The immediate concern was what if our financial and lending institutions were prepared for the onslaught we anticipated for today.

Some of the banks we’re hearing from aren’t quite ready for applications, but they’ve all prepared and if they’re not ready today, hopefully they will be by Monday.”

Because businesses must apply directly through their SBA-approved lender, it’s up to those banks to get their systems up and running. Even if things are slow at first, Garner encourages all small businesses to apply anyway.

Garner said: “I would advise people to go ahead and submit because there’s going to be a cap on how much money they’re going to spend, so my advice would be to come forward and wait for it all to come back. If you are accepted and put into the program, you will be told how much money you can get and you can make the decision at that particular point in time.”

The Shohams say money would be a great relief.

“I’d love to come back and continue working as usual so my clients can count on me,” said Marcie Shoham.

Jonathan Shoham, CEO of Midwest Air Filter, said, “We are in touch with our employees and they are dying to get back to work.”

As they await progress and more details on the PPP loan, they encourage others in their positions to persevere.

Jonathan Shoham said, “As a small business owner you’re pretty resilient anyway and you have the entrepreneurial spirit.”

The steps to start the Paycheck Protection Program application process are listed below along with other resources.

Step 1: Download This application of the Small business administration website.

Step 2: Contact your bank and SBA-approved lender to see if they participate in the program.

step 3: Be sure to ask if they are currently processing applications.

Businesses can also contact the Michigan Small Business Development Center. You are also doing virtual meetings right now.

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