Local banks continue to help struggling small businesses with Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan applications and a Small Business Administration (SBA) official will take part in a webinar next Wednesday with small business owners to help them with the process

“In anticipation of this new round of funding, we’ve been working to make the application process simpler and more streamlined for our customers. We’ve been in regular contact with our customers via phone and email, keeping them informed of any new information available from the Small Business Administration,” said James McKenna, assistant vice president, communications for Tompkins Financial Corporation. “We recently set up an online application portal for PPP loans. We are encouraging our customers to apply through the portal to make the process as easy for them as possible, as we know they have a lot on their plates.”

McKenna said during the first and second round of PPP funding, Tompkins has been working around the clock to ensure customers get the help they need.

“It’s truly been ‘all hands on deck’ with people stepping out of their regular roles to help process applications and deliver the funding that our customers need,” he said. “We’re grateful for our role in helping to keep our small businesses as strong as possible during the pandemic. Many customers are feeling uneasy about economic conditions, and we want to assure them that they can rely on us to assist them through the PPP process. We have countless conversations daily with our business customers and we expect that to continue.”

FIVE STAR BANK said last week that it was accepting PPP loan applications to meet the needs of small businesses and communities across Western and Central New York.

“The health of small business is central to the economic health of our communities,” Martin K. Birmingham, president and CEO of Five Star Bank, said in a news release. “Our associates are pleased to be able to assist small businesses to take advantage of critical funding available to sustain their operations and preserve jobs. Following the first round of applications and funding, we have further streamlined our processes so that we can provide the most efficient and effective support to businesses interested in applying.”

To apply for a PPP loan through Five Star Bank, applicants will need an active Five Star Bank business checking account, which can be opened online at five-starbank.com/five-star-cares-Business_Relief or call (888) 312-1066.

The PPP loan program has been extended to March 31. PPP loans are available to small businesses, independent contractors, self-employed individuals and sole proprietors, Five Star said.

In 2020, Five Star was able to assist more than 1,700 small businesses in obtaining $270 million of PPP loans, helping to preserve an estimated 18,000 jobs. Since Five Star’s current process opened Jan. 19, the bank has already received hundreds of applications.

“I think in general, the PPP program is going very smoothly for this round, versus last spring, let’s put it that way,” Birmingham told The Daily News Wednesday. “The program has been broadened to make sure it is as inclusive as possible. The average loan request size is almost $125,000. We would encourage any small business that’s eligible to apply. This is about getting aid to where it’s needed as fast as we possibly can.”

Birmingham said at this stage, the emphasis is on PPP and that’s where Five Star is the most active.

“In the last four to six weeks, we’ve been providing aid in many forms. The other thing we’re doing is partnering with community organizations to host Zoom seminars,” he said. The most economically vulnerable businesses have been invited to participate in the seminars, some of which have already taken place. Birmingham said there will be more.

“We’re partnering with Empire Justice Center as well as Genesee Regional Cooperative Credit Union. Through that collaboration, we’ve trying to reach as many small businesses as possible,” he said. “This program is open, it’s available and we’re happy to support borrowers getting through the process.”

JULIA BERCHOU, M&T Bank vice president and public relations manager, said M&T’s loan portal is now open.

“To apply, all you need is an M&T business checking account. If you do not have an M&T business checking account, visit your nearest M&T Bank branch to open one, and then you can apply for a PPP loan,” she said in an email to The Daily News. ”Our teams across the company have quickly come together in order to assist customers with this latest round of PPP funding. So far, in this latest round of PPP, we’ve received more than 13,000 completed applications requesting approximately $1.9 billion in PPP funding for businesses employing about 309,000 workers.”

Berchou said as with prior rounds of PPP, there was a large volume of applications in the first week and loan requests have slowed significantly.

“About half of the applications have been approved by the SBA, and we’ve already begun to disperse funding. The average loan size is $141,457 and 77 percent of loans were for under $150,000, with 61 percent to companies with 10 or fewer employees,” she said. “About 15 percent of the applications are coming from first-time borrowers. We’ll continue to do whatever it takes to get as many small businesses the funds they need to keep their doors open.”

Some important details related to the program have changed since the first round, so small business owners should check the M&T website and talk to their relationship managers to get prepared for this new round, she said.

“We also continue to process loan forgiveness applications related to previous rounds of PPP funding. Information about the loan forgiveness process is also available on our website and through our small business bankers.”

DURING THE SBA WEBINAR from 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Rochester Branch Manager Virginia Smith will provide PPP, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and SBA loan program updates. Registration for the free webinar is required to receive a link to the meeting. Visit https://calendar.libraryweb.org/event/6932044 or call the Business Insight Center at (585) 428-8106.

The updated information will include: PPP first draw, PPP Increases, PPP second draw and SBA debt relief.

“Anyone with a current Paycheck Protection loan or interested in a second draw will hear information about the additional details to the Paycheck Protection Program provided through the Economic Aid Act,” Smith said of next Wednesday’s event. “Highlights will include PPP additional eligible business entity types, added eligible forgivable expenses and details regarding other programs referenced in the Economic Aid Act.”

GENESEE COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE President Tom Turnbull said the chamber thought the details of the SBA webinar were worthwhile to pass along to chamber members.

“We just like to pass those things on because somebody might need it and it’s free,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1