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For some, programs provide more frustration than help

John Horner from About Time and Watch Repair in Charleroi stands in his shop Thursday afternoon.

By JEFF STITT

成年轻人电影直接看Congress has approved a $483 billion coronavirus aid package to replenish the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program and provide funding for another coronavirus relief SBA loan, among other things.

成年轻人电影直接看However, some Mon Valley small business owners are still feeling frustrated, nervous and confused about the process of applying for PPP and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and EIDL advances, fearing that they may never see relief.

They have been instructed to apply for PPP loans through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, Farm Credit System institution or other approved lending agency or bank that is participating. 

Approved PPP lenders listed on the SBA’s coronavirus relief website located in the Mid- and Upper Mon Valley include larger-named banks such as PNC, Citizens Bank and Key Bank, along with smaller banks like First Commonwealth and community-based banks like Community Bank and S&T Bank. 

EIDL is a two-part program including advances of up to $10,000 that do not have to be paid back and loans that will be processed or negotiated after advances have been distributed. EIDL is handled through the SBA’s online portal and via mail and fax. 

Some local business owners such as Jill Kramer, owner of MRK Construction in Charleroi, said she has been met with technical errors and delayed responses about PPP loan applications.

Kramer has about 20 employees and applied for a PPP loan “as soon as they were available through our bank, PNC.”

The application process took more than two hours.

“We were continually bumped out and had to start over,” she said. “After getting the application completed and submitted, we waited. We contacted PNC several times to find out what we needed to do if anything. We were told that we would be contacted by PNC by email.” 

On April 16, weeks after she applied for relief, Kramer received an email from her bank at 1:52 a.m. stating that her application needed to be digitally signed, even though she had already signed it.

“That was the same day it was reported that the money was gone,”  she said. “So no one reviewed our application until it was too late.  We still resubmitted it and were told that if anything else was needed they would email us.”

Kramer said she has never heard back from the bank.

She called the SBA for guidance, but was advised to contact her bank.

成年轻人电影直接看“We tried to contact someone at PNC that could help us because you can no longer check your application status online,” Kramer said. “We were told by our local PNC they could not check that and do not have any information as to whom we can contact, so we still do not know. We will probably hear from them once the rest of the money is gone.”

成年轻人电影直接看Kramer’s employees are collecting unemployment compensation, but MRK is paying for their health insurance.

成年轻人电影直接看“We were really hoping to get this money so our employees could keep getting paid,” she said. “I am angry that this has happened and our employees are being so negatively impacted by this situation.”

成年轻人电影直接看John Horner, owner of About Time Watch and Clock Repair in Charleroi, said his Fallowfield Avenue shop has been shuttered for three weeks.

He works alone and has missed out on about $1,000 in revenue since the economy shut down.

“That doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it is to me,” he said.

Horner attempted to apply for EIDL assistance through the SBA’s website and has been met with technical errors.

“I got online and was able to get through the first time to apply,” he said. “I didn’t have my EIN number, so I went back to the shop to get it. When I tried, I couldn’t log back in after that. I keep trying, but I can’t get access.

成年轻人电影直接看“They make it sound so easy, and now I’m hearing rumors that they’ve run out of money. … I have to pay on my building and pay taxes. I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul. I’m using my own equity here and that’s not going to last.”

The rumors Horner heard about EIDL coffers being empty are true. The SBA has announced it is unable to accept new EIDL applications for advances and loans “based on available appropriations funding” and has closed its web portal until a new coronavirus relief package is passed. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The PPP’s fund was exhausted April 16. SBA approved 1.6 million loans from approximately 5,000 lenders prior to the money running out, according to a statement from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. There have been 69,567 applications approved in Pennsylvania, according to SBA’s website. 

成年轻人电影直接看McKeesport residents Walt and Cathy Kozlowski own 18/8 Fine Men’s Salons at The Block Northway shopping center. Prior to closing, the couple had 10 employees on the payroll who reside in a variety of area communities.

成年轻人电影直接看The Kozlowskis applied for the PPP through PNC and for EIDL on March 30 and have gotten no word about whether they’ll receive help.

“We were issued an application number but we have gotten no response,” Walt said. “There was no email that said ‘We got your application,’ nothing.  

“Honestly, we’re not even sure the SBA got the application or did anything beyond generating the application number.”

The couple said they have had to pull money out of their personal savings to pay rent for a shuttered shop this month, and they fear they won’t be able to do that for much longer.

成年轻人电影直接看Walt estimates that their men’s salon is missing out on about $15,000 per month in profits.

“Our losses are much higher when you factor in prom haircuts and spring weddings,” he said. “Starting in April, we move into our busiest and most profitable time of the year, but that is all missed opportunity.”

成年轻人电影直接看The Kozlowskis are fearing the worst for the future of their business.

“To be honest, we’re not sure we will ever reopen,” Walt said. “We have tapped out and can’t seem to get any help from anyone.  

成年轻人电影直接看“If Wolf told us we could open tomorrow, we would have to remain closed until we find funding to pay our employees and rent. It kills me when I see the government gave American Airlines $5.8 billion, but I can’t even get a response to my asking for $10,000 let alone actually getting the funds.

成年轻人电影直接看“Larger and more financially savvy businesses than our mom and pop seemed to have the inside track to scoop up every dollar possible if they needed it or not. In all honesty, the little businesses like ours didn’t stand a chance.”

See the Saturday edition of the Mon Valley Independent to read the second article in this series in which reactions and information from banks and the SBA will be featured.