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Local banks flooded with SBA loan applications as businesses seek funding amid pandemic

Banks say they have been overwhelmed, and some big banks are no longer accepting applications.

TAMPA, Fla. — Banks across the nation and in the Tampa Bay area are putting in extra hours to process the overwhelming number of loan applications from small businesses seeking funding to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many entrepreneurs to close their doors.

RELATED: Local businesses struggling through COVID-19 gear up to apply for federal loan assistance

“Over the weekend, our entire team was here that worked on SBA [applications] and we worked all day Friday into the evening. We were here all day Saturday. I know I left about 10 o'clock. And I think we had a couple of other people working even later, probably till about midnight, and then we worked all day yesterday,” said Roy Hellwege, chairman and CEO of Pilot Bank of Tampa. “So, we're trying to process these loans as quickly as we can. 

“But overall, we're enthusiastic, and we feel good about what we're doing.”

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Through the bipartisan CARES Act President Donald Trump recently signed into law, $350 billion in federal funding is now available to small businesses via the Small Business Administration. Applications for those SBA funding programs opened up last week, but some lending institutions have been unable to keep up.

Hellwege says while Pilot Bank is a smaller lending institution, it still received about 400 applications in just a few days.

“…We're not a huge bank; we're approximately $460 million. We'll probably be closer to $500 million when this is all said and done, but, but we have about 400 active applications and more are coming through as we speak,” Hellwege said. “Our application process is going very smoothly right now. And we're managing it pretty well.”

However, things appear to be bumpy at some banks. Lisa’s Café in Madeira Beach posted about having trouble with Bank of America. 

According to CBS News, Wells Fargo is no longer accepting applications for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small businesses with capital to help with payroll and other operating expenses.

To eliminate as many problems in the application process as possible, Hellwege said to make sure you know what loan you need before applying. The Small Business Administration currently has four new loan programs business owners should research first. Then get submit a completed application immediately.

"I would always encourage you to start with your own bank first since they know your history and so forth. And all banks will prioritize initially with their own clients,” he said.

Also, make sure your finances are organized especially if you're applying for payroll assistance.

"Most companies have 941 tax statements which show your pay, and you would need that for each quarter of 2019. In our case, we're asking for your year-end financial statements--not to underwrite the loan, but just to verify the payroll amount,” Hellwege said. "We need to keep our people employed. We need to make sure that they can take care of themselves, and that's why we feel so strongly about what we're doing."

To learn more about the SBA loan programs for businesses struggling through COVID-19, click here.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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