BOSTON—If you have tried to apply for the Congress-funded Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, with your bank and have met some challenges, you may want to try Leader Bank, a nationally chartered bank with seven full-service branches in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Burlington, and Cambridge in Massachusetts.
“Leader Bank has done an outstanding job getting small businesses the help they need in a very timely fashion. They not only served all their clients in the first batch of SBA loans, which is remarkable, but offered to take on non-Leader clients prior to the second SBA allocation,” TiE Boston President Nilanjana Bhowmik told INDIA New England News. “We sent a note to our Charter Members alerting them of the offer, and I believe that within a week, at least 30 small businesses associated with our members received commitments of over $5 million.”
That is truly commendable given the slow pace at many other banks, said Ms. Bhowmik.
“The Leader Bank team has worked all-nighters and weekends to make this happen,” added Ms. Bhowmik. “We are both grateful on behalf of those that received the loans and also proud of how well Leader Bank has served the community in a time of dire need.”
The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, is an Small Business Administration program funded by Congress to help small business owners pay their employees during the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
PPP loans are fully backed by the SBA, but the processing, underwriting and funding of these loans is done by banks, credit unions and other approved lenders. Small businesses, which are generally defined for the program as those with 500 employees or less, may apply for a loan that is 2.5 times their monthly payroll costs for the purposes of paying employees, paying rent and utilities, and certain other approved costs.
To apply for such loans, applicants must complete an SBA application form, which includes certifying that the current economic uncertainty make the loan necessary for the business to continue operations, and provide information and documentation about their payroll costs, among other things. If the small business owner spends their loan proceeds on these approved costs (with at least 75% going to payroll) and either rehires or does not lay-off employees in the eight weeks after obtaining the loan, then the business can apply for the loan to be forgiven for as much of the eligible costs as they have spent.
“This program seems like a dream come true to many small business owners, and with Congress authorizing up over $600 billion in available funding, the demand for these loans has been great,” said Leader Bank President and CEO Sushil Tuli.
Unfortunately, the program has also seen negative publicity compete with numerous success stories, with large and publicly traded companies accepting loans of up to $10 million dollars with many small businesses unable to get their applications approved. Big banks have faced lawsuits and a public backlash, with allegations that influential large customers were given priority while smaller businesses were shunted to the back of the line or not even allowed to apply in the first place. Even during the second round of funding, there have been many numerous complaints that customers of large institutions still cannot obtain the funding they need.
In contrast, community banks have stepped into the forefront to help their customers process their applications, and were rewarded with a dedicated pool of PPP funding when Congress reauthorized the program last week.
“I founded Leader Bank in 2002 as a small business owner, and meeting the needs of my fellow entrepreneurs is very important to us,” said Mr. Tuli. “Leader Bank knows how important small businesses are to their owners and workers, and we wanted to help as many members of our community as we could in these challenging times.”
Leader Bank devoted significant resources through various departments to prepare for PPP, including creating a dedicated website for applicants to submit information and upload documentation and allocating staff to the program to ensure that the Bank could meet demand. As a result, Leader Bank was able to obtain SBA guarantees for more than 90% of those applicants to completed applications in the first round of the program, and has helped an additional 500 applicants secure PPP funds since it reopened on Monday.
When asked how those still looking for funding could apply, Mr. Tuli encouraged potential applicants to visit www.leaderbizloans.com to check their potential eligibility for PPP loans and submit an application if they are able to do so.
Mr. Tuli explained that Leader Bank was still accepting applications from old and new customers alike, and expected to do so for as long as funds remained in the program.
While some may be discouraged by the negative publicity surrounding PPP or the lack of responsiveness from larger institutions, community banks such as Leader Bank can be a lifeline to small business owners in these troubling times.
If you are a small business owner looking for a PPP loan, work with a local community bank with SBA experience – they will be able to help you faster and more efficiently than certain other more well known institutions can.
Mr. Tuli said if someone applies for PPP loan at www.Leaderbizloans.com and submit an application with supporting documents, “we are trying to commit everyone within 24 hours of receipt of complete documents.”
“The get the funds committed takes about 24 hours for us to verify the information, once we get the funds committed, it take about 10 days to underwrite, close and fund the account,” Mr. Tuli said.
With assets over $1.5 billion, Leader Bank, N.A. is a nationally chartered bank founded in 2002 with seven full-service branches in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Burlington, and Cambridge. Leader Bank offers a full range of personal and business banking products including personal and business checking accounts, commercial and residential lending products, home equity lines of credit, deposit products with highly competitive rates and free online banking and bill payment services.