It’s all gone.
Less than two weeks after the federal government launched a $349 billion emergency loan program to help small businesses survive the coronavirus-induced recession, the funds have been exhausted, the U.S. Small Business Administration confirmed Thursday.
Just a fraction of the 30 million small businesses in America benefited from the program. However, data released this week from the SBA show that small-business owners in Minnesota fared better than their peers in most other states.
The emergency loans are part of two key aid programs aimed at helping small businesses deal with the consequences of stay-at-home orders that have rocked the economy from coast to coast. The other program provides grants worth $1,000 to $10,000 for small businesses, but that $10 billion program has been plagued by delays and has reached its funding limit.
“By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a joint statement. “We urge Congress to appropriate additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program — a critical and overwhelmingly bipartisan program — at which point we will once again be able to process loan applications, issue loan numbers, and protect millions more paychecks.”
President Donald Trump has requested another $250 billion for the emergency loan program, but the proposal has stalled amid partisan bickering. Republicans are pushing for quick approval while Democrats are requesting that a portion of the additional funding be used to help businesses that don’t have existing banking relationships, especially female- and minority-owned businesses.
Many small-business owners have complained that large banks have refused to accept their application for the program. A Star Tribune survey of the 10 largest financial institutions showed that most of them required applicants to have had a business checking account no later than Feb. 15. Some banks have refused to handle requests if a customer had a business account with a competing lender.
Thousands of business owners were still waiting for their loan requests to be processed when the funds ran dry.
Mark Lindgren, who owns a company that shreds confidential documents in Minnetonka, applied for a $20,000 loan almost two weeks ago. On Thursday morning, he received an e-mail from U.S. Bank informing him that his request was on indefinite hold.
“We recognize it is frustrating to have uncertainty around much needed funding for your business,” the bank said in the e-mail. “Even with thousands of employees working around the clock, we were not able to satisfy the overwhelming demand from our customers.”
U.S. Bank spokesman Evan Lapiska said Thursday that the bank funded more than 17,000 emergency loans. In a previous e-mail, Lapiska said the bank received more than 29,000 applications as of April 6.
Lindgren said he will have to make some “hard decisions” by the middle of next week if he doesn’t receive the funds.
“It is frustrating,” said Lindgren, noting that small businesses employ almost half of the workers in the U.S. “Put aside the politics and get something done.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she is willing to support the president’s request, but she wants $60 billion set aside for Community Development Financial Institutions, which are a major source of funding for female- and minority-owned businesses.
Alfredo Martel, who runs one of those community groups in Minneapolis, said minority business owners were largely shut out of the $349 billion funding cycle. He said his nonprofit, the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, has already loaned out all it can.
“We obviously don’t want to delay the process, because time is of the essence,” Martel said. “But we need to make sure that the second batch of funding goes to those who were not served by the first batch.”
Just 3.3% of the nation’s small businesses managed to obtain a loan through the program, the SBA data show. The program is available to companies with 500 or fewer employees, with companies able to borrow up to $10 million.
“The high demand we have seen underscores the need for hardworking Americans to have access to relief as soon as possible,” Mnuchin and Carranza said in their joint statement.
Minnesota companies did better than most states. As of Monday, 33,819 small businesses in Minnesota obtained a total of $7.6 billion in forgivable loans, with an average loan size of $225,713, the data show. The state ranked eighth in total awards. Altogether, 6.5% of small businesses in Minnesota obtained a loan, almost twice the national average.
There are 1.3 million people employed by 520,110 small businesses in Minnesota. On a per-business basis, Minnesota companies were awarded $14,676, the fifth-highest rate in the nation. Eight of the 10 states that did the best, based on their small-business population, are based in the Midwest, including Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa.
Rob Scott, the SBA’s regional administrator for Minnesota and five other Midwestern states, said he thinks Minnesota outperformed many other states because of the state’s strong banking presence as well as its significant manufacturing community.