The Fifth Third Bank flagship on the renovated ground floor of Willis Tower in Chicago, June 17, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Clock is ticking on newest round of small business loans

With nearly 59,000 loans approved so far for Ohio businesses in the second and most recent round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), funding is likely approaching exhaustion in a few days, one banking industry source says.

“We anticipate the second round of funding to run out later this week, so any small businesses still out there should reach out to their bank as soon as possible,” said J.T. Thurston, a spokesman for the Ohio Bankers League.

Time is of the essence for entrepreneurs who still want the forgivable loans to get through the pandemic, he said.

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“Our banks are still working around the clock to process applications, but the funds are finite,” Thurston said.

A total of $22.8 billion, or about 308,000 in loans, have been approved for businesses in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Great Lakes region, which includes Ohio — more loans than in the PPP’s first round.

For Ohio loan applicants so far in the second round, about nearly 59,000 loans have been approved, for a total of about $4.7 billion.

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There have been almost 119,000 approved PPP loans to Ohio businesses for almost $19 billion total, for both rounds, according to the SBA.

Ohio is ranked ninth nationally in terms of approved loans, Thurston said.

The loans are forgiven to small businesses who retain their workforce and keep their lights on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing directives and public health orders have either cut into customer traffic for thousands of business or forced them to temporarily close doors.

At least 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March.

An initial $350 billion in PPP funding ran dry last month. Then Congress replenished the fund with an additional $310 billion, with the new round of loans launching on April 27.

“We’ve been going full-steam ahead for the past seven or eight weeks now. It’s been an interesting time,” said Rob Scott, a Dayton-area native and administrator for the Great Lakes region.

Early on, observers expected the second round of PPP loans to hit capacity in a week. That hasn’t happened.

Asked why in a conference call Tuesday, Scott said: “The simple answer is, the average loan size went drastically down.”

Nationally, just over two million businesses have been approved for the forgivable loans, for an average loan size of about $76,000. Total loans nationally approved so far in the second round have reached $175.7 billion.

“This second round, we’re really hitting those smaller small businesses, those moms-and-pops you see around your community,” Scott said.

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