MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Monday afternoon, as part of her visit to Morgantown, Jovita Carranza, the administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) made a ‘Small Business Visit’ to the restaurant Tin 202.
The visit came after she held a roughly hour-long round table discussion with local small business owners and lenders.
Tin 202 was successfully able to secure less than $50,000 of federal money through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP). Carranza ate lunch with co-owner Chris Evans and discussed how the restaurant was fairing after receiving federal money.
“They really helped us bridge a time from not being until we were able to partially reopen and without those PPP funds, I know us and many other businesses would have struggled to survive,” Evans said. “We’re discussing the process that we went through, we’re discussing how easy it was and was really not too challenging in my opinion. And now we’re discussing the payback and how some of these loans will be viewed when they’re forgiven and how much more information we’ll be asked to provide to prove our forgiveness of the loan amount we received.”
Evans offered advice to some small business owners that are too afraid to tackle the PPP application or simply don’t have the know-how. The first step, he said, is to not be scared because everyone has a banker they can turn to for help. He said he knows because his local bank made the process easier and less frightening.
The next step, Evans said, is remaining diligent throughout the process, keeping a watchful eye on how the money is being spent and making sure that they’re hiring back employees that have left, making the staff whole again.
When asked if he had made any suggestions to Carranza, Evans had this to say.
“I wouldn’t say I recommended anything to the administrator,” Evans said. “I would say that I think that a lot of the process simplicity was based in what forms you received from your bank because the SBA set out a blanket and not all banks had the information at the same time and not all banks created a form for clients that was the same as the form that had been created from another bank. We said maybe streamlining the uniformity of the process would have helped.”
There are many supportive regulars who sent the Tin 202 resources via mail or called to share their knowledge, but the key was sticking with the bank, Evans said. That way they did not get overwhelmed by having too many sources and could simply have a straightforward process.
Evans said he appreciated having Carranza stop by his restaurant.
“It’s certainly an honor to be a small business owner and host her today as part of this whole process we’re all going through and certainly makes me feel connected on a personal level to the SBA,” Evans said. “Because people hear SBA and it’s like this kind of — even though it’s the Small Business Administration, there’s a lot of small businesses and it’s a large entity. I’m really thankful that the little guy, so to speak, was taking care of from my understanding, and certainly, we are, that made us feel like we’re an important part of the economy, that we are an important part of moving the economy forward.”