With Paycheck Protection Program money wiped out, small business owners battle for loans

HOUSTON – Brandy Woods slowly and sadly walked into her Imagine Me Academy in Baytown Monday. It’s a daycare center she opened eight years ago. Woods is a small business owner struggling right now to keep her business alive.

“Before this whole pandemic we had approximately 160 kids,” said Woods. She added, “We’re down to 48 kids now, so every single week, we are bleeding thousands of dollars.”

Woods estimates she is losing $15,000 a week due to the coronavirus outbreak. So, several weeks ago she applied for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The $349 billion program is designed to give small business owners an amount equal to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll expenses.

The loan is forgiven if the business owners keep their employees on the payroll.

But, despite the billions involved, the program ran out of money last week.

“We applied the very first day the application came out... we got an approval. I got a docu-sign, I knew how much money was coming,” said Woods.

But days later, Woods got an unsettling message.

“I get an email saying... there’s no more money... I was absolutely devastated,” she said.

The SBA says with the PPP, it processed 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days.

“We have seen as little as $5,000 loans all the way up to a couple million-dollar loans go through Amegy bank,” said Jentri Smith an SBA loan manager at Amegy Bank.

While Congress is working on a second PPP, Smith has this advice for all small business owners.

“Please reach out to your Congresspeople and push them to actually get this through, we need to help a lot of small businesses," Smith said.

As far as the PPP goes, Houston restauranteur Louis Galvan, owner of Irma’s Southwest in downtown, loves the program.

“We jumped on it as soon as it became available through our bank Amegy Bank,” Galvan said.

He was approved for his loan and got the money quickly.

And he says it’s critical that small business owners get an expert at their bank to help them apply for the money.

“If you don’t have someone walking the loan all the way through, it can be an issue,” Galvan said. “Cause if you don’t have all your paperwork in order, you could be pushed back to the back of the line.”

The United States Senate is set to vote on the passage of a bill that would create a second paycheck protection program Tuesday. The new program, if passed, would have even more money to give struggling, small business owners than the first program. It could be a total of $370 billion.