‘Unfairness built into the system’: Will relief funding reach Beaufort Co. businesses?

‘Unfairness built into the system’: Will relief funding reach Beaufort Co. businesses?

Hilton Head Island Packet
April 26, 2020

BY JAKE SHORE

An avalanche of loan applications in South Carolina is expected to hit the federal agency in charge of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as small businesses left out of the first round of relief funding want in on round two.

The program was infused with $310 billion on Friday, and many S.C. small businesses whose applications were on standby may now see their applications go full steam ahead when PPP starts up again Monday morning.

“We still have some unfairness built into the system,” said Frank Knapp, President & CEO of S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“They’ve not made this first-come, first-serve. The lenders are still picking and choosing who they want first,” said Knapp, about the program which relies on banks to dole out loans.

The loan is completely forgivable if a business spends 75 percent of it on payroll for employees and the rest on expenses like rent and mortgages.

Even though the Small Business Administration (SBA) approves PPP loans, banks are the ones that decide if an application will move forward.

Knapp said S.C. small businesses are slightly more likely to see funding because many lenders “have taken care of their good customers already.”

In the first round of funding, the PPP quickly ran out of money as it was revealed big companies, like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack, were recipients of small business relief funding. Both companies have since returned their loans after public outcry.

When the money ran out on April 16, the applications of many S.C. small business were put on hold.

Joe Williams owns a Beaufort furniture and flooring store, Phoenix Flooring & Design, and he said he found out his application for PPP was approved a few days after the program ran out of money.

“It was kind of aggravating,” said Williams, about the process of securing the loan. He said the funds have not yet come through for his business.

“I will feel a heck of a lot better when I see the money in the account,” said Williams.

For businesses in Beaufort County, their loan being approved or filled this week could be make or break for the survival of their business.

“No ones coming to our doors. We’re going to have to get people to come through the doors pretty quick,” said Williams, “If we get the money, that’s something that will tide us over.”

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