PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Friday started a federal program aiming to help small businesses.
The Paycheck Protection Program promises loans to help keep small business employees paid.
Small businesses, they were having trouble getting in touch with their bank.
“I’m trying to apply for these loans that supposedly started this morning, but nobody seems to know anything about it. None of my banks have any information yet,” Food For Thought owner Robert Wasserman told KDKA at his Oakland store.
He says he was on hold for much of the morning as he tried to apply for the money.
He’s trying to make sure his seven full time employees get paid while they’ve lost a third of their business.
“I can’t wait another two days of to see if I’m going to file or not. I need to file today,” Wasserman said.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about $350 billion is available. The program is for any small business with less than 500 employees.
The loan is fully forgiven if it is used to cover payroll, rent or utilities.
“I was hoping to get it done this morning. I have all the information ready for the, but until they say go, I just have to wait until they are ready for us,” Smallman Street Deli owner Jeff Cohen said.
Cohen spoke with his bank who is trying to get the application on their website.
“I know one that they are going to have to turn it around quickly for people to stay in business,” Cohen said inside his Strip District restaurant.
“We’re trying to create a loan product that we’ve never had before in seven days. It takes every part of the bank to make that happen,” Dollar Bank Senior Vice President Of Commercial Banking David Weber said.
Dollar Bank was able to accept applications and start processing them. Other banks were not so lucky and were having trouble getting started.
They said the program is unprecedented and changes were being made by the SBA as late as 9:30 Friday morning.
“Do I wish we had more time? Absolutely,” Weber said at their Gateway Center office. “I wish we had another week to finalize all the processes, but I am encouraged that we are up and running and accepting applications.”
Dollar Bank hopes to have more of the program go digital to streamline the service for clients. They had hundreds of applications and thousands of inquiries.
According to the small business association, the program will run through June 30th. You can learn more here.