Bankers work hard to ensure small business owners can take advantage of loan programs

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Farmers National Bank has already gotten nearly $20 million to help local small businesses

(WKBN) – There were long banking hours this weekend as local banks were busy signing up businesses for the new Small Business Administration loans. Some bankers were even working 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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So, what do these loans mean for small businesses?

The SBA loan program has been a big hit with businesses looking for help. But, the program has just $350 billion available.

“We need to get our customers in line as soon as possible,” said Mark Witmer, chief banking officer for Farmers National Bank.

Farmers has already gotten nearly $20 million to help local small businesses.

Cortland Bank has had five loans confirmed and another 50 applications approved, just waiting to get through the system.

“There’s a lot of business that has been impacted by the shutdown and at least in the short term have been hurt financially. This is a very good program,” said James Gasior, a CEO for Cortland Bank.

The Paycheck Protection Program can provide up to two and a half times of the expenses that it takes to keep the business running. For companies struggling with revenue, this will help them get to the other side of the crisis.

“It looks like it’s good for everybody that’s a small business, which is under 500 employees, and that’s the vast majority of businesses in the Valley,” said Guy Coviello, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.

The PPP was targeted at the hospitality industry, restaurants and hotels. The loans require the borrower to attest they’ve been negatively impacted by the crisis.

The SBA will look back to make sure businesses have kept workers employed and the business going. In that case, most of the loan can be forgiven.

“I can tell you, our entire team here, we just feel for these businesses. You get into the middle of this, you want so much to be able to help them,” Witmer said.

Witmer has talked with other local community banks and is proud of everything they’re all doing to make sure this money comes to the Valley.

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