Alabama banks: Demand for SBA loans slowing help for small businesses

Updated: Apr. 3, 2020 at 6:49 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama bankers say they’re ready to help local businesses through federal loans, but there’s a roadblock.

The Alabama Bankers Association President and CEO Scott Latham said the surge in demand on the Small Business Administration in the aftermath of the passage of the CARES Act has slowed the process.

As a result of the act, the SBA is responsible for processing the Paycheck Protection Program. The program creates forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees.

With unemployment spiking across the country, demand on the program is high.

“The hurdle is nothing [small business owners] can control,” Latham said.

“Unfortunately it’s something we cannot control as bankers. It’s is the capability of the systems, that the SBA uses to accept this incredible flow of information that’s uploaded."

He said because the SBA is struggling to process the workload, Alabama banks are slower to provide the loans.

“The money is there, and the ability of the banks to write those checks is there,” he said.

“[We have to] get those gates open to slide the information to them.”

Progress Bank CEO David Nast said the situation is stressful on everyone.

“On a typical year, the SBA handles about $28 billion of SBA loans. This program is meant to get $350 billion into the hands of small businesses fairly quickly," he said.

Both Latham and Nast said they were confident the SBA would be able to improve it’s internal infrastructure in the coming days.

That time could be the difference for Lisa Shiver, the owner of What’s Popp’N in South Huntsville. She said she’s had to lay off her staff at the popcorn store, and is uncertain of the future.

“I may not be here. I’m not quite sure. I’m not sure what’s going to come out this," she said.

She said she’s applied for a federal loan but was given no timeline.

Latham and Nast said all parties will need to be patient, and small businesses should contact their bank about having the appropriate paperwork ready for file.

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