- The U.S. Small Business Administration is opening a streamlined application portal that will allow businesses with Paycheck Protection Program loans of $150,000 or less to apply for forgiveness directly, according to a press release. The portal will begin accepting applications on Aug. 4, and be able to service about 6.5 million borrowers.
- The SBA has also created a PPP customer service team that will answer questions and directly assist businesses with their loan forgiveness applications. Operators can call this team at 877-552-2692, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
- The vast majority of PPP borrowers waiting for forgiveness have loans of $150,000 or less, SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said in a statement. The SBA approved over 6.5 million loans totaling more than $275 billion. In 2021, 96% of loans went to businesses with fewer than 20 employees (compared to 87% in 2020).
By giving contractors a direct line to the SBA to submit forgiveness applications, rather than relying on banks as intermediaries, construction firm owners around the country could learn of their loan's status more quickly. This could be crucial to the financial health of many firms as the industry contends with rising inflation, supply chain disruption and historic labor pressure.
If a business can learn whether it is forgiven faster, it could avoid the need to set aside funds to cover the loan and instead put that cash toward pressing needs, such as utilities, hiring bonuses or other debts.
"This initiative will allow PPP borrowers to put their concerns of achieving full forgiveness behind them and focus on operating and growing their businesses again," Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for SBA's Office of Capital Access, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the Associated General Contractors of America lobbied the SBA over what it said was the agency's slow response to forgiveness applications for loans of $2 million and more.
AGC General Counsel Michael Kennedy said that long processing times mean contractors have to carry loans as a liability on their balance sheets until a decision is made.
"It's already having a financial impact on the companies that are waiting for forgiveness," Kennedy said. "We have reason to believe that it's impacting contractors' bonding capacity, we have reason to suspect that it's impacting contractors' credit ratings."
Since that time, certain requirements for these larger loans have been lifted and at last report, forgiveness was being granted at a faster pace.
Jennifer Goodman contributed to this report.