Cash Incentive

Hundreds of businesses, big and small, have been caught by the safety net of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The program administered by the Small Business Association and bankers allocates $349 billion to provide 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Funds can be used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage payments, rent, and utilities for businesses that maintain payroll. Under this program, loan payments are deferred for six months.

Nationally, more than 2.2 million loans have been approved in the second round, totaling $175.7 billion, the SBA reported in an update Sunday. The number of lenders totaled 5,432.

As of Friday, May 8, 36,808 loans were approved for Missouri small businesses, resulting in more than $1.8 billion in federal dollars.

Many of those loans were facilitated through banks in Franklin County and range from millions of dollars down to as little as $500.

The loans are made at 1 percent interest over a two-year period and future applications may be made for complete loan forgiveness.

Lending institutions benefit in the form of closing and other processing fees.

Bank of Washington  

According to Bank of Washington President Louis B. “Buzz” Eckelkamp, III, to date, the bank has made 372 PPP loans, totaling nearly $71,000,000, with loans ranging from $1,000 to $3,000,000.

“For the last 143 years, we haven’t stopped once serving our customers, and this pandemic has not changed that,” Eckelkamp said. “Small businesses are the heart of our community and we know PPP loans have provided many with a needed lifeline.” 

He added employees worked late nights, over weekends and a holiday to ensure this funding got into the hands of business owners. 

“Our commitment to serve the community is as strong as ever,” Eckelkamp said. “We sincerely want all customers and community members to know we are here for them.”

Bank of Franklin

County

Lending Manager Dustin Jasper said his bank has processed 325 PPP applications with most being approved by the SBA and funding supplied to the applicants.

“The majority are local (Franklin County), but we wouldn’t turn anyone away,” Jasper said. “We’ve had one or two loans in the millions but the average has been about $70,000.”

Jasper added there is still some funding left in the federal PPP coffers and the bank is still accepting applications.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank President David Engelbrecht says the real benefit to the banks is helping local businesses.

“We’ve closed on 100 loans for over $15 million,” Engelbrecht said. “You would be amazed at the types of businesses who have applied. Everything from hairdressers, hospitality, manufacturing, landscapers and trucking companies. Anything you can think of.”

Engelbrecht added once the business owners had their applications squared away, bank staff were able to upload the information to the SBA and after some repetition, had the process streamlined to about 15 minutes.

“Within about 10 days, the money was in the businesses’ accounts,” Engelbrecht said. “It went very well. We had a wide array of businesses. Some were 100 percent shut down and we had a few essential folks.”

He added none of the businesses Citizens Bank served were “going to the ledge about to jump off” and most were optimistic.

As of now, Citizens Bank is no longer accepting applications mainly because it doesn’t want businesses to be in the middle of the loan process and have the federal money run out.

“I think most banks in the county participated in this program,” Engelbrecht said. “We are not adversarial and understand what’s most important for the county residents.” 

FMB

Farmers and Merchants Bank in St. Clair was able to process all 103 applications it received, leading to $8.2 million in loans and saving 1,200 jobs.

President and CEO Matthew Laumann said the average loan amount is right at $62,000 but early in the process the average was $111,000.

“Our highest loan amount has been $400,000 and our lowest was just $500,” Laumann said. “The loans have been primarily customers in St. Clair, but we haven’t refused anyone. We’ve had some in High Ridge and Eureka and probably made some new customers because of it.”

Laumann added the types of businesses applying for PPP loans ran the gamut and although applications are still trickling in, they have slowed dramatically since businesses are beginning to open back up in the county.

“We had some businesses that were interested in the program and never applied,” Laumann said. “We were able to put four staff members working on the applications. We are trying to help everybody out.”

Heritage

Community Bank

Another lender in Washington, Heritage Community Bank, has processed 126 PPP loans to the tune of $8.5 million.

Chief Operating Officer Ed Stowe said the largest of those loans was $1 million and the smallest was $1,000.

“It started a little rough, but it was a technical thing with the SBA,” Stowe said. “But, once it got rolling, it leveled out.”

Stowe added the average number of employees at the businesses the bank was able to serve was between 10 and 15.

“We didn’t have any franchise companies like McDonald’s,” Stowe said. “Eighty to 90 percent were existing customers.”

Stowe added, like many other banks in the county, the PPP loans have brought in new customers to the institution.

To put things in perspective, Stowe explained the bank normally averages 80 to 100 loans per month and the new PPP applications doubled the workload for staff in the last several weeks.

First State

Community Bank

First State Community Bank (FSCB) President Scott Breckenkamp is also of the opinion the PPP loans and the bank are in this for the community.

Since the program started in April, FSCB branches in Washington, Pacific and Sullivan have processed 139 loans for $15,718,393. 

“The majority of the loans were to mom and pop businesses,” Breckenkamp said. “The highest loan amount was $4.7 million and the lowest was right around $3,000. The types of businesses were all across the spectrum from salons to jewelry stores to manufacturing to restaurants.”

Breckenkamp added most of the business owners he spoke with said they would have most likely survived without the PPP, but due to uncertainty and the unknown timeframe on the pandemic they decided to go ahead and apply as a safety net.

With several branches across the state of Missouri, Breckenkamp said the bank’s PPP totals statewide were 1,521 loans issued for $127 million.

“We were able to approve all of the applications that were submitted,” Breckenkamp said. “They’ve slowed down, but we are still taking applications. In fact, I have two on my desk right now.”

Bank of Sullivan

Bank of Sullivan Senior Vice President Glenn Overschmidt says the biggest challenge of the PPP was learning on the fly since the program was new and still evolving.

He explained more than $17 million in PPP loans have been processed to 252 applicants, with about 60 percent of those to Franklin County businesses.

“Our loans ran the spectrum from painters and landscapers to restaurants, retail and doctor’s offices,” Overschmidt said. “Our loans ranged from a few thousand dollars up to a few hundred thousand.”    

Overschmidt added many of the bank’s customers who received loans said they were not sure how they would have survived without the assistance and some had applied to larger banks but were in a holding pattern.

“We took the stance that we would do whatever we could to help our customers and referrals,” Overschmidt said. “We were working some nights until 11 and 12 p.m. We are still processing and taking applications.”

United Bank of Union

United Bank of Union President Mike Elliot would not disclose the total amount his institution has lent.

He did say the bank has processed 250 applications for businesses directly affecting 2,300 employees.