Groups scramble to get loan money available for Billings businesses
For the first time, Congress authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) to use its economic disaster loan program to deal with a biological event.
Daniel Nordberg, SBA Region VIII administrator, said on a teleconference with small business executives from Billings on Wednesday that the SBA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will include the use of such loans in the event of an economic disaster. . Previously, he said these loans were only used to respond to natural disasters, such as floods or tornadoes.
$ 2 trillion emergency bill approved by congressional leaders on Wednesday includes $ 367 billion for small business assistance. But because the specific wording of the bill is still being worked out, Nordberg was unable to provide details.
Nordberg and Brent Donnelly, director of the Montana SBA district office, provided an update on the SBA’s various loan programs during the teleconference hosted by the Billings Chamber of Commerce. The two officials stressed that these programs could be radically changed given the emergency.
The two officials stressed the importance of the relationships and partnerships that the SBA has established with economic development groups across the country. One of those partners is Big Sky Economic Development in Billings, which said Wednesday it will offer bridge loans to help small businesses make ends meet until SBA funds become available.
“With the SBA, it could be several weeks before you actually see funds, said Steve Arveschoug, executive director of Big Sky EDA.“ That gap could be six to eight weeks. You’re always trying to generate cash, cover expenses and for some small businesses in our community that gap can be devastating. “
Arveschoug said Big Sky EDA’s business stabilization loan program can provide small loans, up to $ 15,000 for small businesses.
“This program is an effort to fill that gap. It could make a big difference,” said Arveschoug.
Big Sky EDA is working to prepare its application process early next week, but Arveschoug pointed out that the business stabilization pool is capped at $ 250,000. He added that his team is working to acquire additional resources for the program.
SBA executives also admitted on Wednesday that its website crashed this week due to the high volume of people applying for disaster loans. Nordberg apologized for the issues which increased the level of frustration, but said the agency was working feverishly to restore its website as soon as possible.