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SBA loans still available for small businesses, but act fast

SBA experts recommend smaller lenders for businesses that were not able to get funding from larger banks.

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla — Coronavirus relief loans through the Small Business Administration are still available, but experts say act fast.

Denise Oglesby, owner of the Beauty Bungalow in St. Pete, said she first applied for the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but never heard back from her bank.

"Some days you're just really afraid.," she said. "I'm like, 'I've worked really hard to build this business up, and what's going to happen? Am I going to get help?'"

Oglesby refined her strategy, applied with a smaller bank, and found success with the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program. This forgivable loan helps businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus cover payroll expenses. 

"I did get approved immediately, and I got that money pretty quickly," she said.

Oglesby said she's relieved that she can keep her facial spa employees on payroll, but she worries that if her salon isn't able to reopen soon, the money will run out.

As of right now, it's not clear if there will be more funding in the future for the Paycheck Protection Program. Althea Harris, SBA's Assistant District Director for Marketing and Outreach said right now, the program still has funding, but those who need it should apply immediately for relief. 

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

"There is money still available and we would encourage any business owner who has not yet applied to make sure that they make applications with the banks," said Harris. "To date, we have approved over 2.2 million applications for the PPP, and of course several million dollars have already been approved by the SBA for small businesses. But there is still money left, but time is of the essence. So if you want a PPP loan, now is the time to ask for it."

The PPP has received two rounds of federal funding through the CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump. The first round of funding ran out not long after the program opened up in April. Many banks, particularly large ones, were overwhelmed with applications and many small businesses were shut out.

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

Harris suggests working with a smaller lender if a larger bank was or is not able to help. "We have some data and we know that smaller financial institutions are leading the way in getting those loans out to small businesses," Harris said. 

"Small institutions have green money that you can spend just like the larger banks, and they have greater capacity for customer service because they don’t have as many applications," she said. "I think it’s a great idea to try the smaller institutions, the fintech companies like QuickBooks, PayPal. There are microlenders with SBA programs that are making loans as well, so there are a lot more players in PPP round two that business owners can elect to work with rather than just the larger financial institutions.

Harris also recommends considering applying with your mortgage lender or local credit union. "There are lots of financial institutions that you might not think of that are connected to you and you should try them," she said.

For more information on the SBA's coronavirus relief programs, 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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