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Small Businesses Still Looking for Guidance in Latest Round of PPP Lending

Article by Rick Morgan, Puget Sound Business Journal below:

January 22, 2021  Only a week into the latest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) round, Seattle Credit Union has already received 26 loan applications totaling about $2 million. 

For President and CEO Richard Romero, one of the biggest challenges will be guiding small business owners through the application process. “We’re still faced with a lot of the same challenges when dealing with small to micro businesses that may not have the documentation that’s required or the expertise to figure out the requirements, so we do a lot of one-on-one handholding,” Romero said. “Some may not even have taxes filed.” 

During the initial wave of the PPP last year, the number of applications from struggling small businesses caused headaches and backlogs for lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Romero said Seattle Credit Union has a team of about six people working on the PPP volume. 

Seattle Credit Union has about 160 total employees. Romero said although many of those employees can help with simple processes like data gathering to make the PPP process smoother, more technical issues need the expertise of a commercial lender. Employees help clients finish their applications over the phone, ensuring they have all the necessary paperwork. 

Romero said the credit union could instead "be cold-hearted" and push clients with incomplete applications to the back of the queue, but that would only perpetuate the bigger problem of businesses not receiving money. 

The latest wave of the PPP began last week for certain lenders, with the program opening to all lenders Tuesday. The program, which officially expires March 31, has over $284 billion available for businesses. 

Romero said he hasn't noted any major changes to the process this time around. Certain small businesses might be able to secure two PPP loans during this wave — if they act fast and didn't receive a PPP loan during the first wave — but Romero said the credit union hasn't seen any kind of SBA guidance on that. 

Seattle Credit Union, which has nine branches and $970 million in assets, uses Fiserv as its core technology provider. Fiserv has a portal for lenders to submit applications to the SBA. 

"We are a small operation. We have a really small commercial lending team that's handling this," Romero said. "All we can do is work the queue as we get it." 

About Seattle Credit Union:

Seattle’s partner in growth and prosperity since 1933, Seattle Credit Union has long been committed to helping Seattle communities of every kind live financially prosperous lives. With nine branch locations throughout the Puget Sound, as well as a robust online banking system for those outside of Western Washington, SCU provides trusted financial advice, a breadth of products, and personalized service from a member-owned, not-for-profit organization that continuously re-invests in its members and the local community.

Media Contact:

Sarah White
Revolution PR

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