ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The Small Business Administration said Thursday that it reached the $349 billion lending limit for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Nearly 1.7 million loans were approved for small businesses, including Poochie’s Park in Orange Park.
Poochie’s Park, like many other small businesses, had to make changes amid the coronavirus pandemic, such as cutting employee hours.
Owner David Kophamer said when he couldn’t apply his employees for short-term unemployment, he found out about the PPP.
“So April 3, when we applied, we thought it might be a month or so. It was only a week later or so that the bank said, ‘We think it’s going to happen this week,’” he said.
He found out Wednesday they could bring back their 24 full-time employees, like Kristi Cessna, and continue to pay them.
“I was ecstatic. I was, like, ‘Yes, I get to go back,’” Cessna said.
For weeks, she and others had to be flexible and were told to “hang in there.”
“I average anywhere between 37 to 40-plus hours a week. I dropped down to almost 10,” she explained.
They said the worst part was not knowing what to do next.
Kophamer said he hasn’t heard of many other businesses getting help from the SBA.
“Even though they applied at the same time that I did, it looks like we are one of the first to get it,” he said.
Thousands of small business owners whose loans have not yet been processed must now look to Congress to approve a Trump administration request for another $250 billion for the program. Lawmakers have been haggling over whether to extend the program as it stands now, or whether to add provisions that, among other things, would help minority businesses. It’s unclear when they might reach an agreement that would allow loan approvals to continue.
For the money to run out so fast, it shows just how great the need has been for small businesses.