Small businesses worry about the future without a PPP loan

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MILWAUKEE – Small businesses are desperate for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (P3) today.

Beard MKE, a men’s lifestyle retail store on the East Side of Milwaukee, did not receive funding when it applied last month.

“We learned that the funding was exhausted when we received the update. Our application was 75% complete, ”said Michael Sander, co-owner of Beard MKE. “We were excited, but a minute later we received an email stating that the funding was exhausted.”

The business opened in March 2019. A year and two days later, COVID-19 forced them to close, and now they don’t know if they will ever reopen.

“It bothers me that the money has gone to big business,” Sander said. “It doesn’t really help the little man.”

According to FactSquaré, in Wisconsin, three publicly traded companies received PPP loans. Waukesha-based Telkonet, Inc. received $ 913,063. Sonic Foundry, Inc., based in Madison, received $ 2,314,815 and Twin Disc, Inc., based in Racine, received $ 8,199,500. Sander and his partner say they would need less than $ 20,000 to stay afloat.

“We’ve heard from some larger lenders who have actually done this,” said Rob Scott, regional administrator for the US Small Business Administration, Great Lakes region. “Their rationale was that they employ more people and want to help as many employees as possible who are affected by this crisis.”

Congress has allocated $ 310 billion for the second round of PPP funding. Scott says they’re pushing lenders to respond to these requests on a first-come, first-served basis so companies like Beard MKE get equal help.

“We have no legal authority to impose this on a lending institution,” Scott said. “But if your lending institution is not treating you well as a customer, there are many others who offer the PPP loan. “

Scott suggests using smaller credit unions or banks to process the P3 request.

“I would say they have more of a customer service, a TLC approach when it comes to loans and banking,” Scott said. “It’s harder for a community bank or a credit union, when their kids are in little league with your kids and have a direct connection to you, to ignore you. Bigger lenders have more customers. They are a little further away. If you have that relationship with a credit union or community bank or want a relationship with them for the PPP loan, I would definitely contact them. “

However, Sander says that’s not possible for a new business like Beard MKE. He says he’s not happy with the way his biggest bank is treating them, but they don’t have a lot of options because they’re so new. They have not had the opportunity to file their taxes because their accountant is not available due to the crisis. They therefore do not have the necessary documents to apply for the loan at a new bank.

“This [bank] is the only place we have a business relationship with because we’re so new, “Sander said.” I can’t walk into a small credit union and apply for a loan without being an existing partner. “

Now they have to wait and see what happens with this round of nominations. It could be ‘make or break’ for them.

“It’s frustrating,” Sander said. “Unemployment just broke for the self-employed last week, but it’s still 30 days of waiting to complete this process. You’re talking ten weeks without any funding or additional assistance in any way.”

The store was designed by Sander’s partner Geoff Hoen. It was a dream of her to bring a store like this to Milwaukee. Thus, the money they could receive could keep his dream alive while providing a unique store in the east corridor of North Avenue.

“It would be major,” said Geoff Hoen, co-owner of Beard MKE. “Right now, it just takes the pressure off us to stay focused on whatever we need to do which is engage with the community, make sales and get the word out so people are there. to shop with us when it is That would cover the rent, utilities, all that overhead. There’s a lot of it. It takes a lot to keep a store like this afloat.

Staying afloat at this point requires online orders through the Waxwing website. Hoen says they are selling goods, but not enough. What those dark times have shown to both of them is how kind their friends, family and supporters are.

“I received a check in the mail from my sister’s boyfriend,” Sander said in tears. “You get emotional because you can’t believe you’re taking a document. It means a lot. It’s just exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It’s hard to take a document. You want to do it on your own. you fought for it. You worked hard and you rely on other people to help you. “

As they both navigate these unprecedented times, they don’t know what the future holds. They are in desperate need of the P3 loan money, but are uncomfortable receiving it.

“To be honest, not at all confident,” Sander said. “Our loan amount is so small. It’s like $ 17,000. People ask for $ 100,000 in loans. I was a banker. These are priority loans. Our loan is minor to them. If nothing happens. , we are resilient. We will make it work. [Geoff’s] dream. We’re not going to let it down. “

The application process began on Monday morning, but Scott says it’s not too late to apply. However, it’s best to go now.

“You probably watch until the end of the week until it’s sold out,” Scott said. “The system can’t get that money out in a day. It’s a big amount of money. But if you need it, you have to act now. We don’t expect it to last until the end. of the week. “

The Small Business Administration has more resources for businesses trying to apply for the loan.

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