Small businesses desperate faster processing of Paycheck Protection Program loans

The federal government has promised funds for small businesses to make their payrolls, in an effort to keep people employed amid mass closures due to the novel coronavirus. But when you own a business -- or you rely on that paycheck to make rent -- it feels like the wheels of government have all but stopped.

That's the case for many Bay Area businesses and employees.

Brian Reeves, who owns 13 Fantastic Sam's locations in and around Tampa, said he applied for a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, but hasn't heard a response. 

Meanwhile, he has enough money to pay his 145 employees for one more week.

"I sit in front of my computer and refresh my email and refresh the website," Reeves told FOX 13 News.

He applied for a loan that will let him keep people on the payroll for another 8 weeks.

"Yes, they have received all my application [papers]," he said. "But there are so many people applying right now, we are just going to have to hold tight."

Rep. Ross Spano (R-15th District) says only $124 billion out of $350 billion in PPP loans has been approved since the president signed the $2 trillion stimulus package March 27.

"Has it been done as well as we wanted? No," said Spano. "Anytime you have a large government program like that rolled out over this short period of time, you are going to have some hiccups."

He says loans for businesses that already worked with the Small Business Administration went faster. 

PREVIOUS: Small businesses struggle to find banks still offering Paycheck Protection Plan loans

For others, most of the wait has been because of website delays, documentation, and communication between banks and the government.

"My opinion is, by the middle of next week, fully all of that $350 billion will have been allocated," said Spano.

Rep. Spano says it looks like there is going to have to be a second round of help for small businesses, too.

"It is very, very clear, even in this early juncture, that we will need to allocate more funds," said Spano. "Small businesses are the backbone of the nation's economy, of the district's economy in Central Florida, these are the people you want to be able to get back up and running very quickly."

The loans will be forgiven by the federal government if employers keep everyone employed for two months.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map