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August 3, 2021

SBA seeks speedy forgiveness of PPP loans

Starting this week, borrowers that received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $150,000 or less will be able to apply for forgiveness via an online portal being set up by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The portal will go live on Wednesday here, with more than 600 banks nationwide taking part.

In Maine, SBA staffers are gearing up to help, led by Diane Sturgeon, head of the SBA's Maine District Office, who says the team will keep an updated list of lenders who have opted into the program on its website.

Staff members are also encouraging lenders to get in touch with customers directly to let them about the portal, which she says is designed to be user-friendly with built-in customer service.

Diane Sturgeon portrait
Courtesy / U.S. Small Business Administration
Diane Sturgeon is the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Maine District Office.

"We're very excited to see this up and running, as it will help the vast majority of our borrowers get their forgiveness as quickly as possible," Sturgeon told Mainebiz.

"Our end goal is to get any loan that qualifies for forgiveness forgiven fast."

In total, the SBA and lenders have worked to originate more than 11.7 million loans totaling nearly $800 billion in relief to more than 8.5 million small businesses, according to last week's news release.

That includes more than 6.5 million in loans approved in 2021 worth more than $275 billion, with an average loan size of $42,000.

The program has been anything but routine for banks and SBA officials, as detailed in a Mainebiz cover story earlier this year.
“The SBA’s new streamlined application portal will simplify forgiveness for millions of our smallest businesses — including many sole proprietors — who used funds from our Paycheck Protection Program loans to survive the pandemic,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, in a news release. 

“The vast majority of businesses waiting for forgiveness have loans under $150,000," she noted. "These entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses and are challenged by an overly complicated forgiveness process. We need to deliver forgiveness more efficiently so they can get back to enlivening our Main Streets, sustaining our neighborhoods and fueling our nation’s economy.”

In addition to the loan forgiveness application portal, the SBA is standing up a PPP customer service team to answer questions and directly assist borrowers with their forgiveness applications via phone (see information below).

“This initiative will allow PPP borrowers to put their concerns of achieving full forgiveness behind them and focus on operating and growing their businesses again,” said Patrick Kelley, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access. “We are pleased to be able to assist financial institutions across the U.S. in processing forgiveness applications for small business owners.”

Help desk

Borrowers that need assistance, including help finding out their SBA loan number, can call the SBA help desk at (877) 552-2682 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. 

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