Even though there is still funding available for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), part of the CARES Act, which was designed to aid small businesses by providing funds to enable businesses to preserve jobs and meet payroll expenses, the SBA (Small Business Administration) released the application for borrowers to ask forgiveness for these loans last week. 

“The application is extensive, much more than we had hoped,” said Vice President/Commercial Lender for Branson Bank Katie Hodges. “We are currently working with several different outlets, including accounting firms, SBA resources, the ABA and MBA organizations trying to facilitate the best way to help our customers and community members complete these applications in order to maximize their loan forgiveness.”

The PPP program featured 100 percent guaranteed loans, approved by the SBA and processed primarily through the U.S. commercial banking system, like Branson Bank and a few other banks in the community.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, $513 billion have been given out as part of the PPP loan program. Before the loans were awarded, recipients were given several guidelines as to how the money should be spent should they want the loan forgiven.

“There were guidelines given when the loans were issued, but they were pretty generic,” Hodges said. “The rule was 75 percent for payroll, 25 percent for other eligible expenses, but the actual application, which is 11 pages long, requires detailed information about each and every employee, how much they were paid, what their full-time equivalent ratio is. There are multiple ways to calculate that information to figure out which is the best avenue for them, which could impact their forgiveness.”

According to Hodges, they have been told the SBA is going to provide further clarification, and provide the lenders application and instructions, which they currently do not have.

“We’re encouraging people to read through what has already been presented by the SBA, which we have a link to on our website ... and begin to communicate with their accountant and payroll company regarding the documentation they’ll need to gather to complete the application,” Hodges said. “However, there is no need to rush. We feel like with the extensiveness of the application, there are possibilities there could be changes or amendments made to make it easier. We don’t know that for sure, but we’re hoping through the lobbying of several of these large organizations like ABA and MBA, there will be some modifications, whether it be a dollar threshold, or maybe some leniency on the fulfillment of this application.” 

“When you open this application, it is scary,” Hodges said. “For an everyday, small business owner in Branson, it is going to look quite daunting and very scary. What we want them to know is, we’re working to get resources as quickly as we can, and as soon as that information is available.”

Another thing Hodges sees as important is being aware of scams and scammers looking to take advantage of people.

“People should also be cautious about being contacted by, or finding resources that say ‘Hey, we can do this for you for a fee,’ or ‘we can provide you with training to fill out this application for a fee,’” Hodges said. “You have all the information available for forgiveness calculation in your hands, so when people claim they have other information to help, they need to be very careful. We’ve had several people pay money to sit through a seminar and think they know how to do it when they don’t.

“Any time there is vulnerability in the community, people will try and take advantage of it, so unless it comes directly from their bank, the SBA or the Treasury Department, they should be very leery.”

Another important thing to remember is the bank that helped the business get the PPP loan is the bank that will help fill out the application for loan forgiveness.

“It’s also important for people to stay tuned for more information,” she said. “We think there will be a lot more information come out over the next few weeks now that we have this initial draft. Like on the front end of this program, after the initial information came out there were three revisions, so while there is no need to rush, it is important for people to be in contact with their banks to have the best and most up-to-date information.

“Our community banks are trying to help the community ... and we have all of our resources dedicated to helping people with not just the PPP, but trying to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible.”

Visit bransonbank.com for more information on PPP, EIP, potential scams and more.

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