STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Two rounds of funding and more than $600 billion later, the federal Paycheck Protection Program remains a waiting game for many businesses across Northeast Ohio after the federal loan program was overwhelmed with requests from small businesses hoping to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I really thought, wow, the government is going to cover me for two and a half months so we can get through this, get to the other side and figure it out," said Cecily Andrews, owner of the Strongsville-based marketing firm Quantum Age Collaborative.
Andrews applied for a PPP loan which was intended to keep companies from having to lay off workers during the pandemic. But before she received a dime, the first round of nearly $350 billion in funding ran out.
"What goes through my heart is disappointment," said Andrews. "What goes through my head is, I’m gullible, too good to be true, you know? There’s no such thing as free money kind of thing."
Then, there was new hope for Andrews and other small businesses as Washington pumped another $310 billion into a second round of PPP funding.
But just days into accepting applications, there have been technical problems as banks flooded the Small Business Administration with applications from businesses nationwide looking for help.
"Things were tough, tough sledding right out of the chute," said Mike Adelman, President of Ohio Bankers League, an industry trade group representing Ohio banks. "We understand that businesses are just getting crushed and they really need the financial support to retain their employees and pay the bills."
He said bankers have worked around-the-clock in some cases to get applications into an overwhelmed federal processing system before the money runs out again.
"I have predicted it should be gone within a week," said Adelman.
In the meantime all Andrews can do is wait to hear if her loan get approved this time. While she's hopeful, she said she's operating under the assumption she won't see any money this time either.
While business has already dropped off, Andrews said the bills keep coming leading to uncertainty about her company's future, as frustrations with the loan program grow.
"It’s not a huge surprise, but it is a big disappointment that it didn’t work out the way it was intended so far," said Andrews.