KILLING SMALL BUSINESSES: “Computer issues” at SBA delay small business loans

NEW YORK — Small business owners hoping for quick help from the government’s emergency $349 billion lending program were still waiting Tuesday amid reports of computer problems at the Small Business Administration.

The SBA’s loan processing system stopped working Monday, making it impossible for loans to be approved and funds distributed, according to a trade group for community bankers and the CEO of an online lending marketplace. And there was confusion about the documents lenders needed from customers to complete loan transactions, they said.

“We are getting thousands of applications but many of our members can’t get into the SBA’s system or there are additional holdups,” said Paul Merski at the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Thousands of companies are at risk of failure without a cash infusion. Even those that have laid off their staffs face bills like rent, mortgage payments, insurance, utilities and taxes. Many companies that are still working have lost revenue as their customers turned cautious and canceled orders or projects.

SBA spokeswoman Carol Wilkerson said Tuesday afternoon that there have been more than 275,000 applications received for loans valued at $75 billion since the program launched. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had predicted last week that loans could be turned around and money transferred to businesses’ bank accounts the same day as applications were received.

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