The Payment Protection Program of the SBA has injected much needed economic relief into local economies, helping support jobs and pay bills. In Minnesota 46,383 loans were approved totaling $9 billion.
This is the Good News for Minnesota business and nonprofits. Lenders, the local SBA office and others should be commended for getting all the applications in the pipeline – as the SBA puts it “14 years of work in 14 days.” This massive investment will offer an important lifeline to the small business economy.
The Bad News is that many micro businesses are out on a limb. These are the Mom and Pop stores that help stabilize neighborhood economies.
A furniture upholsterer, a used car dealer, a home health care provider, a new day care center, a restaurant, a coffee shop….micro businesses left without assistance.
Many did not have a relationship with a banker, or their applications in shape for a quick submission or just did not hear about the program, or did not hear back from their lender. Their only option is being lucky to score on oversubscribed grant lottery programs offered by various entities.
That brings me to the Ugly side of the program. It was set up to benefit bigger, more established businesses and nonprofits that have capacity to apply and relationships with lenders who look out for them. The micro business sector, especially minority and other underrepresented groups already faced barriers to access before the program launched. The SBA knows about this because it has an Office of Advocacy who is supposed to keep a watch out so that things like this do not happen.
They can fix it for the next round.
Have a separate category of funds for micro businesses with less than five employees and annual income less than $150,000.
Prioritize lenders who have an active partnership with community development corporations especially those focused on minority and other underrepresented groups.
Make it easy to apply and provide multilingual support for application and documents needed.