Orlando small businesses able to get Paycheck Protection Program money through small banks

2 College Park businesses already approved for thousands in PPP money amid coronavirus pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. – Two College Park business owners said they were both approved for the federal Paycheck Protection Program before the money ran out for the first round, believing it was because they applied through small, local banks.

The Paycheck Protection Program, also known as the PPP, is a federal loan that can be forgiven for businesses to cover their payroll and keep employees on staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

[RELATED: Hundreds of local businesses claim emergency bridge loan before funds run out | Orlando business receives much-needed funds during coronavirus pandemic]

Julie Casey, the owner of the Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen, said one of her regulars connected her with an accountant who recommended she apply for the PPP through a bank she had never heard of before. She said she was approved for $22,000 almost immediately.

“It’s Cogent Bank in downtown Orlando and they are the ones who got me approved within 24 hours,” Casey said. “I just feel like the small banks are more equipped to deal with us and the challenges that we are having.”

Casey said she is already out of cash reserves for her business, hasn’t paid April rent and had to furlough her entire team. She said once her closing documents for the PPP loan are signed, she will first call her employees back to work.

“As soon as it’s in the bank, I plan on calling my staff in and (saying), ‘Let’s get busy,’” Casey said.

Down Edgewater Drive, the owner of the Woof Doggie Day Care, Michele Thillbrick-Olds, said she too was approved for PPP funding after applying through the local Iberia Bank in College Park. She said she was approved for enough funding to cover payroll for her employees and rent for the next eight weeks.

"It was a lot easier than I thought it would be," she said.

Thillbrick-Olds said she had the option to either email or even drop off copies of her documents to bank employees, who then helped her apply. She had her money within three weeks.

However, also in College Park, Shakers Restaurant owner Greg Granda is still waiting on his PPP funding. He said he applied on April 3 through Bank of America, which he has banked with both personally and commercially for more than 30 years.

"I'm still waiting, I haven't heard anything," Granda said.

During a phone call Thursday, Bank of America officials told News 6 the delay is due to the overwhelming demand. A spokesperson said the bank has received 390,000 PPP applications, totaling $50 billion through their institution alone.

“We have dedicated around 8,000 employees to connect with our clients, process loans and distribute funds. Carefully adhering to Treasury Department guidelines for the program, we processed and funded thousands of requests worth billions of dollars before funding paused. We continue accepting and processing thousands of loans every day, so that we are ready as soon as funding is authorized and the SBA begins to accept applications again. We are committed to doing this work right, for our clients and for American taxpayers,” the spokeswoman said.

Granda said he’s counting on being included in the next set of approvals.

“I really hope I am included in the second round,” Granda said. “It’s hard to look back, but we all realize now that the smaller banks were coming through for the smaller businesses. I should have done that route if I would have known.”

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