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SBA funds start to flow, but there’s more help locally for next round

Even though additional pandemic aid for small businesses was under consideration in Congress this week, that may provide little clarity for small-business owners — especially really small ones — whether they will get the financial assistance they need. 

Perhaps more clear is that funding has started making its way to businesses in the Rochester area and there is plenty of help available for negotiating the application process whenever a new round begins. 

M&T Bank, based in Buffalo, processed more than 27,000 applications from Maryland to Buffalo in the last round, which ran out of money a little more than a week ago. The largest Small Business Administration lender in the area for more than two decades, even M&T was hard pressed to meet the overwhelming demand. 

Dan Burns

Dan Burns

“We went from 300 people assigned to do this work to 2,300 people,” said Dan Burns, Rochester region president for M&T. “I’ve never felt more proud of a group of people in my life.” 

In the Rochester area, the bank won approval for 1,800 Payroll Protection Program loans totaling $440 million. CNB reported that during the last round of funding, it helped 2,502 small businesses with SBA loans totaling  $289.6 million. 

Burns agreed that some particularly small businesses may not have won approval before the window closed. “There are a lot of small businesses that maybe, they’re trying to make ends meet and they don’t have a finance person,” he said. “We’re very hopeful that there will be an agreement in Washington and the window will open back up and we’ll be able to take care of these clients.”

National news reports have slammed some of the larger banks for focusing on businesses that most Americans would not consider small, winning hundreds of millions of dollars for public companies with hundreds of employees. 

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, an advocacy group, is lobbying for an aid package of more than $400 billion, with at least half reserved for companies with 20 or fewer employees. 

At the same time, several financial institutions and advisors have stepped forward to assist businesses with future applications. 

On Friday (April 24) at noon, the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce will be holding a webinar with Canandaigua National Bank President and CEO Frank Hamlin III and other CNB officials. The topic is how the bank and other financial institutions can help businesses with SBA loans and other aid programs. They also offer advice on managing business finances during this disruptive time. Participants can register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WQHF79_tSyyL4X320t0pvQ. 

RDG+Partners, a Pittsford-based accounting firm, is hosting a free weekly “COVID-19: Stay Strong Webinar Series” on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. through the end of May. The seminars cover a variety of topics related to applying for federal aid programs. 

John Rizzo, managing partner of the firm, said “Perhaps the greatest challenge is that new information about financial disaster relief initiatives is released every day, and unless business owners are on top of it, they could miss updates that are critical to their success in securing funding.”

Rochester-based Paychex, meanwhile, has announced it will connect interested clients with several online lenders, including Biz2Credit, Fundera, and Lendio, so they can apply quickly when another opportunity arises. 

Martin Mucci

Martin Mucci

 “The fact that $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans were allocated in just over two weeks speaks to the critical financial needs America’s businesses continue to have as they do everything they can to stay afloat during this unprecedented uncertainty due to COVID-19,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO.

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