| Chris Putz
WESTFIELD – Local business owners are about to get a bit more relief.
President Donald Trump recently signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, releasing more funds to small business owners who have been financially blindsided by the coronavirus outbreak.
It is the second wave of emergency relief that the government has shelled out to small business owners.
“We hope this (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s Paycheck Protection Program) continues to be funded so every small business has this option,” said Westfield Bank Senior Vice President Tom Cebula, who also serves as the Team Leader for Small Businesses.
Cebula said the CARES act is vital to the local economy in that it allows for small businesses that have temporarily closed the opportunity to take out a loan to re-open with the assistance of the federal government.
If businesses retain their employees, it is likely that the entire loan could be forgiven. Those businesses who do not satisfy all of the criteria after loan disbursement monies are approved will be required to pay back all of the money through short-term payments.
According to Cebula, Westfield Bank approved nearly 700 loans totaling some $185 million in the first wave of funding before the money ran out.
“That’s an impressive number,” Cebula said, admitting that the process in manually entering in all the information for customers 24/7 throughout this pandemic has been a daunting task. “Every [Westfield Bank employee] stepped up ... trying to get all these loans done.”
Westfield Bank recently implemented an automated SBA funding system to speed up the loan process, but still asks that customers exercise some patience.
Any business owner who already applied for a small business loan in the first round of funding were not required to apply again.
The stimulus packages were created as a way for small businesses to get through the next three to six months. The federal government estimates that this lifeline has supported more than 30 million American jobs.
For more information or to apply for a small business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, visit westfieldbank.com. A breakdown of relief options and additional resources is also available at sba.gov.