Security National Bank in downtown Springfield. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

SBA lets small lenders take over Paycheck Protection loans for a night

As of Wednesday night, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Great Lakes region had confined the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to smaller and community-based banks for several hours.

More than 960,000 of the potentially forgivable loans had been approved as late Wednesday, with almost $90 billion having been processed via nearly 5,300 lenders in the program’s second round.

But Monday’s relaunch of the popular loan application program has been hampered by computer failures which caused the PPP application portal — known as “E-tran” — to crash.

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“Our banks are having all sorts of problems accessing the SBA’s online platform,” said J.T. Thurston, a spokesman for the Ohio Bankers League. “It has been crashing and locking bankers out. They’ve been literally working around the clock.”

“Small- and medium-sized lenders lead the way,” SBA Regional Administrator and Dayton-area native Rob Scott said in a statement late Wednesday from the SBA. “Lending institutions with less than $50 billion in assets have approximately 793,000 PPP loans approved for $63 billion.’

The average overall PPP loan size is less than $95,000, Scott also said.

The SBA said it will also try to “pace” applications so all lenders submit applications at the same rate per hour and eliminate “lenders’ ability to use robotic processing automation, which mimics human data entry.”

“Small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs, and the PPP is helping those here in the Great Lakes region keep their employees on payroll,” Scott said.

The loans are forgiven if businesses receiving them keep workers on their payrolls.

Of the loans approved as of Wednesday, more than 587,000, or 61 percent, were from small lenders with fewer than $10 billion in assets, the SBA said.

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