MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jovita Carranza, the administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA), was part of a round table discussion with small business owners and bankers on Monday morning.
Carranza was invited by Sen. Joe Manchin who wanted her to have a first-hand account of the challenges West Virginians face when trying to access federal monies through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Carranza said she learned a lot and found out that what businesses and lenders need the most are clarity and expediency. Carranza assured those in the room that the SBA is augmenting their system in order to better help those who need funding and she reminded them of the deadline for the PPP.
“I shared with the lending community, the bankers in the room, that they have about 10 days to really take advantage of the balance that we have left, $129 billion,” Carranza said. “I’ve also asked the small businesses to speak with their colleagues, speak with their chambers, to do some outreach to at least remove any of the apprehensions that small businesses have to access those funds. We have another 10 days, we’re doing really focused outreach for the underserved market.”
Sen. Manchin said the deadline ought to be extended because so far only about 16 percent of West Virginia’s small businesses have received some kind of federal relief. The senator said he does not believe that the government can get that much money to those in need in such a short time frame. He said the only way that would be possible is if the SBA threw caution into the wind.
Carranza is also a proponent for extending the deadline, Sen. Manchin said.
Another topic that was discussed during the round table was the $400 billion left on the table that is available to big businesses with more than 500 employees.
“The large corporations aren’t going because they can get better deals and better rates with no strings attached if they go right to the private lenders, so they’re not going to the Treasury Department,” Sen. Manchin said. “That’s going to free up that, what do we do with it? Well, I think a portion of that should come through the SBA for the PPP and the EIDL loan, once we get them up and running the way they should.”
Carranza did not provide a direct statement on the idea of reallocating funds to small businesses. Instead, she said her focus was on getting all the small business money out the door in an expedient manner for underserved markets.
Right now, she said, SBA is working with credit unions, minority depository institutions, Community Development Financial Institutions, as well as community banks, to make sure that they are very aggressive and strategic with their outreach efforts to small business owners.
Although there is still a lot of money left and only a few days before the deadline, Carranza said there was a big positive she took away from the discussion.
“What’s really motivating is that they’re ready to hire new employees, add to their payrolls,” she said.
Sen. Manchin said those who are afraid of their business going under should rest assured that the government does not want to see their business fail. Even those who have unsuccessfully applied for federal funds or are too afraid of the application process should trust in the process, he said.
“Go back and call the SBA, call my office or any other, your senators’ office or the congressional offices, call us,” Sen. Manchin said. “See if we can help you get back into the game because there’s still money for you that we can help you and make sure that you qualify for it. That’s what I would tell everybody to do.”