ST. LOUIS — St. Louis banks are swamped with coronavirus business loan applications and are working around the clock to get their small-business clients access to $350 billion the federal government is making available.
"To paint the picture, the first few days we were receiving three applications every minute," said Scott Goodman, president of Enterprise Bank & Trust, with more than $7 billion in assets. "Literally within the first few minutes of posting our application on our website, we had clients submitting their requests. The volume of loans being processed is an incredible undertaking."
It's a similar story at Midwest BankCentre, with more than $2 billion in assets. “We began accepting applications on Friday, and our full staff has been engaged since then – including Saturday and Sunday — to meet the high demand," said Dale Oberkfell, president and chief financial officer. "In just four days, we have already reached $100 million in applications, which is approaching our typical annual loan growth. We are devoting every qualified staff member to assist."
Dan Jones, chairman and CEO of Fortune Bank, with $200 million in assets, said his bank had its system for processing applications up by April 1, and has processed $15 million in applications so far, with $10 million more in the pipeline. "We worked all weekend, submitted more than 100 applications, and borrowers who applied on Friday will begin getting their money early this week," he said. The amounts requested at Fortune Bank range from $5,000 to more than $1 million, he said, with the average loan in the range of $75,000.
Congress passed and the president signed legislation providing $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees under the Paycheck Protection Program. Loans will be available up to $10 million. In certain circumstances, such as using proceeds to pay employees, the loans can be forgiven. The loans are being made primarily through SBA-certified lenders, although other FDIC banks, credit unions and financial technology lenders can become authorized to make the loans.
"We have all hands on deck," said Mitch Baden, president and CEO of Royal Banks of Missouri, with $700 million in assets. The bank was processing loans as late as 10 p.m. Saturday and as early as 7:30 a.m. Sunday, about 50 applications in all, he said. "We are getting approvals slowly from the SBA, but the Treasury and the SBA still have not provided the final note form and loan authorization."
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