Small businesses left in a bind after federal money runs out for SBA loans

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Valerie Riley is used to helping others through her business LifeSquire, a sort of personal assistant for pretty much any need. But right now she’s the one needing help due to the pandemic.

“Our business dropped 60% within the first three weeks so I’ve described it as being on a roller coaster that only goes down,” Riley said.

She applied for a Small Business Administration loan almost three weeks ago and thought she was approved.

“I got an email saying your loan is at this bank. You’ll get another email for closing documents. Then I started seeing all of this stuff on Twitter on Thursday that funds are gone,” Riley said.

She got a call that afternoon saying the money ran out before she could get the loan.
It’s devastating for this company with more than 20 employees, but she’s still trying to push forward.

“It would have saved our business, and I don’t want to get emotional about it, but I’m working harder now than I ever have than maybe when I first started my business 10, 11 years ago,” Riley said.

Rachael Gruntmeir owns The Black Scintilla in midtown. Although her doors are closed, she’s trying to survive with online sales, which typically accounts for only 20% of her business.

Unfortunately, she also got an email that the money ran out before she could get the loan she applied for.

“I was not one of the people that received funding and honestly, I don’t know a single person in my neighborhood, in my small business community that actually received that funding. I don’t know a single one,” Rachael Gruntmeir said.

Tough times for thousands after almost $350 billion from the coronavirus relief package meant for small businesses ran out in just a couple of weeks.
There were 1.6 million loans approved nationwide.

“We have approved over 35,000 paycheck protection loans for Oklahoma, totally approximately $4.5 billion,” John D. Veal, Jr., deputy district director for the Oklahoma District Office SBA, said.

Meanwhile, Congress is working on a $310 billion deal to keep funding the Paycheck Protection Program.

“At this point, it’s a waiting game. Waiting to see what action Congress takes on additional funding and, as I said earlier, stay in touch with your bank. Talk to your banker,” Veal said.

For now, these closed signs will stay a fixture for Oklahoma businesses as the owners work harder than ever to stay afloat.

“You got into this knowing it’s going to be hard, but you find fulfillment through your employees, through your customers and the people and now that’s just gone,” Gruntmeir said.

Meanwhile Shake Shack, a publicly traded company, said they are returning $10 million in SBA loans.

Wells Fargo is also being sued for allegedly prioritizing businesses seeking larger loan amounts when the loans are supposed to be on a first-come first served basis.

If you want to keep up to date with SBA and resources they provide, visit the SBA website, email them at Oklahoma_DO@sba.gov, or follow the Oklahoma District SBA on Twitter.

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