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

It’s the continued uncertainty that keeps Dr. Jacqueline Royce up at night. She runs a small practice in Sarasota, where she performs reconstructive surgery.

Last Friday, she applied for the government’s Paycheck Protection Plan through Wells Fargo, her bank for the last 20 years.

"It’s been absolutely horrible," she said. "That Friday afternoon, my bank canceled the appointment and said, 'Everything has to be online, but we’re not online yet.'"

They told her to reach back out Monday.

"And when I did that, they had capped out on their funds already," she said.

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Royce is not alone. Employers are applying for loans to keep their employees on the payroll through this crisis. The program allows businesses to get loans of 2.5 times their average annual payroll costs.

Those loans can be forgiven if they spend at least 3/4 of those funds on payroll costs within eight weeks.

The plan rolled out last Friday, April 3, and immediately became popular. However, banks have different processes for distributing loans.

Some are limiting applications to only those with business accounts. Most are only accepting existing customers.

Tom Zernick, the president of First Home Bank's SBA Loan Division, says they’ll look at applications from non-customers.

"We are lending to both clients and non-clients today," he said. "We normally do 150 loans a month. We are now going to be looking at doing hundreds per day."

For some businesses, it has been easier. Jack Latvala, who runs Gulf Coast Imprinting out of Largo, says if he didn’t get the loan, he’d have to shut down his printing company soon.

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"I’m a little more forceful," Latvala told FOX 13. "I got in early, and I stayed at everybody, and I think that helped. With this loan, I was able to keep everybody on the payroll."

For those like Dr. Royce, however, there is a glimmer of hope: she’s found smaller credit unions accepting applications, a handful of which she applied.

"Things are disheartening, things are stressful, but we just can’t give up," she said.

Because of demand, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he’d ask for $250 billion added to the PPP program. It’s something President Trump has vowed to do.

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