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Montana Businesses Apply For Second Round Small Business Loans

A manequinne in a black and white striped shirt shows in a window with a closed sign behind it.
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
Cricket Clothing posts a closed sign in Billings Mar. 23, 2020.

Financial leaders in Montana say the majority of loan applications for the federal Paycheck Protection Program have been processed after some major roadblocks earlier in the week.

Brent Donnelly, the Montana District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said over 5,500 loan applications in Montana had been approved as of Thursday morning with the second round of federal funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Donnelly told lawmakers during an Economic Affairs Interim Committee teleconference Thursday that he and his team recently checked in with lenders and banking associations in the state to see if they still had a backlog of applications.

“The general consensus was almost all the banks, at least that reported back, had most of their backlog processed or were just finishing up the last few handful of loans, anywhere from two to maybe 15 loans, and they were either just working on either incomplete applications or new applications coming in the door," Donnelly said.

The PPP provides forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profits to cover up to eight weeks of payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

Nearly 13,500 loan applications in Montana totaling almost $1.5 billion were approved in the first round of funding.

Congress recently approved a second round of funding, which became available Monday morning, but a flood of loan applications overwhelmed the online system.

Donnelly said part of the problem was that the SBA was allowing some lenders to submit large batches of loan applications.

“Like up to 15,000 loans at a time," he said.

He says the SBA removed that option after the major logjam Monday.

Donnelly said around 30 percent of the new funding had already been used nationally as of Wednesday evening.

Melanie Hall, commissioner of Banking and Financial Institutions, said the average approved loan size in Montana was $100,000. She said most approved applicants have already received funding.