San Diego small businesses report problems signing up for stimulus loans

Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 20:31:12-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Small businesses and nonprofits from across San Diego County say they are running into problems applying for stimulus loans meant to get them through coronavirus restrictions.

The low-interest loans, which are forgivable, are available to businesses with fewer than 500 workers and would allow them to pay their workers and meet their obligations at a time when much economic activity is shut down.

The applications opened on Friday, but business owners and those who work with them immediately reported issues, especially at major banks that are inundated by the demand.

"Either the online application is not ready to go, the bank doesn't have their process completed, or they get kicked out somewhere in the process, or the link is down," said Lorin Port, senior controller at San Diego-based PBO Advisory Group.

Torrie Dunlap heads the nonprofit Kids Included Together, which works on inclusion for children with disabilities. Dunlap said she was ready to apply Friday morning when applications opened, but got the runaround from her bank.

"It was pretty stressful and it was hard to find information, and the information that was coming was conflicting," said Dunlap, who is seeking $450,000 to help pay her 30 employees amid the restrictions.

Dunlap ultimately got her application in through a community bank, which Port says are more available to help.

"The smaller banks are the ones that are a little more agile and able to respond to this quicker," Port said.

Michael Weiner, partner at Slate Law Group, said in a statement that credit unions and community banks are a better option for small businesses when it comes to getting these stimulus loans.

"Any small business owner will tell you that their relationship with the local community is their lifeblood. Local credit unions and community banks also operate under the same creed in that they are available to provide for their local community. During this time of crisis, our local relationships are our strength," he said.

Small businesses can borrow up to $10 million at interest rates capped at 4 percent. The loans are forgivable based on a formula of how the money is spent, with an emphasis on making payroll and staffing.