Local small business owners who applied for forgivable federal loans from the Paycheck Protection Program got the word Thursday that the money has dried up — less than two weeks after the application process launched.
"Somebody's getting paid, but it ain't me," said Tai Federico, a veterinarian and owner of Riverview Animal Hospital who applied for funding last week.
"I'm not really sure where our application is in the process," he said. "I don't know if we're in line or if we have to get back in line."
According to a notice posted the website of the Small Business Administration on Thursday, the organization can no longer accept applications for either the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The notice states that Economic Injury Disaster Loan applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, but it does not clarify the status of applications for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Chattanooga attorney Robin Flores applied for both programs to try to keep his business afloat through the coronavirus crisis.
"I've gone these routes, I've done all this stuff they tell us to do, and I'm just basically out of luck," said Flores, who has had to lay off one member of his two-person staff. "My banker tells me there may be some more money but he didn't seem very hopeful."
Lawmakers have been haggling over whether to extend the program as it stands now, or whether to add provisions that, among other things, would help minority businesses. It's unclear when they might reach an agreement that would allow loan approvals to continue.
Tennessee banks asked congressional leaders to immediately approve additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help struggling businesses in the state.
"In just under two weeks, the PPP provided an economic lifeline to more than 19,000 small businesses across Tennessee during this unprecedented time," said Colin Barrett, president and CEO, Tennessee Bankers Association.
"Unfortunately, more small businesses and self-employed individuals still need assistance. We urge Congress to authorize additional funding for the program so banks can continue providing these much-needed funds."
As of April 13, Tennessee banks processed 19,074 applications totaling more than $4.7 billion, according to the SBA.
Terry Turner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Financial Partners, posted a message to the bank's website on Thursday urging lawmakers to find a way to extend the progrma.
"Our message to them is simple: America's small businesses are counting on you," Turner wrote. "Small and mid-size companies employ millions and contribute trillions to their communities. The PPP program is a lifeline that will help many of them survive this crisis."
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