In the coming weeks, banks will once again start accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans — and most of Tampa Bay’s biggest lenders will be back for more.
The program, which is administered by the Small Business Administration, first launched in early April last year. Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the program doled out $522 billion in funds to about 5.2 million businesses nationwide. According to data from the SBA, more than 80,000 loans worth about $13.2 billion flowed into the Tampa Bay region.
The PPP was created to assist small businesses navigating the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; businesses with less than 500 employees could apply, and the loans could be completely forgiven if a certain amount was spent on payroll. Immensely popular when it first launched, demand for the loans died down by June and the SBA ended the program on Aug. 8.
But Covid-19 did not go away, and as businesses struggled to deal with the lingering effects of the pandemic, leaders and lenders called on the federal government to provide another round of PPP funding. Last month, Congress allocated an additional $284.5 billion in loans as part of a $900 billion stimulus package.
Some analysts believed that lenders would opt out of the second round due to “PPP fatigue.” Lenders have said the first round was an exhausting process, and many of the loans from the first round of the program have yet to navigate through the forgiveness process.
“[We] find ourselves hesitant to participate as heavily in a next round of PPP because of continued confusion and burden,” Tom Zernick, head of SBA lending for local community bank First Home Bank, told Congress during a hearing in December.
But many local lenders said they saw participation in the program as a duty to their customers and confirmed they would participate in the upcoming round of PPP. Among those was First Home Bank, one of the top local lenders in the first round with more than $205 million in PPP funds provided to Tampa Bay businesses.
At least five other locally-based lenders — South State Bank, The Bank of Tampa, First Citrus Bank, Achieva Credit Union and Pilot Bank — confirmed they would participate in the next round. Also participating are Bank of America and Truist, which have provided the most PPP loans in Tampa Bay among all lenders.
Wells Fargo — which got off to a rough start but ended up being one of the biggest lenders to Tampa Bay businesses — said it would participate in the upcoming round. Synovus Bank, Centennial Bank, Bank OZK, Regions Bank, PNC, Hancock Whitney, Fifth Third Bank, Valley National Bank and TD Bank all independently confirmed they would take part in the program, although several of the banks added the qualifier that they were waiting upon further guidance from the SBA.
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