Local banks still holding out hope for blanket PPP forgiveness

Any hope for imminent assistance from Congress on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness is dwindling. Several
attempts to pass additional stimulus have been bogged down in Congress in the months leading up the election; earlier this
week, President Donald Trump said he was halting any further discussion of a stimulus package until after the election (he
reversed course on Thursday, saying that talks were once again back on).

But local lenders are still holding out that some guidance will come down from Congress to ease the PPP forgiveness process.
Two months since PPP forgiveness application portals have opened up, most lenders have only submitted a handful of

“We’re going to need some help on this, as are a lot of lenders,” said Tom Zernick, president of SBA lending at First Home

More than six months after the PPP launched in early April and almost two months after the Small Business Administration
began accepting forgiveness applications, most of Tampa Bay’s biggest lenders said they are still waiting on Congress, in
hope that blanket forgiveness of all PPP loans under $150,000 will be passed. Several of the banks, including Truist Bank
and Synovus Bank, said they were accepting applications in waves or phases. Most of those applications has been for loans in
excess of $150,000 (Truist provided the 802 such loans in Tampa Bay, the most of any lender in the region).

The vast majority of PPP loans were for less than $150,000. At many banks, the amount under that number accounted for 75
percent of their total PPP loans, and the rate was even higher for some community banks.

“We have not started to take forgiveness applications on PPP loans of $150,000 or less,” said Dave Mastrorio, the chief
lending officer at Tampa’s First Citrus Bank. Mastrorio estimated that roughly 85 percent of PPP loans commissioned by
First Citrus were under $150,000.

Others were recommending that borrowers wait to fle forgiveness applications — like the Bank of Tampa, according to a

After the election
Lenders who spoke with the Tampa Bay Business Journal were not optimistic that a blanket forgiveness would come within
the next month, despite Trump’s recent pledge to continue negotiations. However, most of them believe that some sort of
stimulus would be passed in early November, after the election.

Zernick said there was still plenty of time before borrowers needed to fle the forgiveness application, which is why the
lenders have the ability to wait. But most borrowers are going to want to have their loan forgiven before the end of the year,
said Janet Plummer, SBA loan specialist at First Citrus Bank. Without the blanket forgiveness, lenders will have a lot of
applications to process in the coming months. Florida alone had more than 432,000 PPP loans approved, according to SBA

“Going through the forgiveness process, it’s a lot of work for borrowers,” Plummer said. “It’s craziness… I think the SBA is

To help ease the process, the SBA announced on Thursday night that there will be a streamlined version of the forgiveness
application for loans under $50,000. On Friday morning, every lender who spoke with the Tampa Bay Business Journal
— from national banks like Bank of America and Truist, to community banks like First Home Bank and the Bank of Tampa
— said they would be utilizing this streamlined application.

According to SBA data from August, more than 5.2 million PPP loans were approved nationwide. Of those, 3.57 million — or
more than two-thirds — were for less than $50,000. Loans in excess of $150,000 counted for just over 12 percent of all PPP
loans approved nationwide.

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