May 12, 2020
A group of 6 Score Boston mentors was assembled during the week of April 6-10 to answer inquiries from SCORE Boston clients and mentors about Covid-19 related loans and grants. Tim Nelson headed up the group, assisted by Fred Eustis. The other 4 members of the group are Bill Rittling, Phil Crutchfield, Dick Bohling, and John Doherty.
An email address was set up that week just for Covid-19 questions, and the email was posted on the SCORE Boston website. The group also set up a shared Google drive for information resources to be shared within the group. We started answering emails on April 10.
In the 4 ½ weeks since we started, the group has processed about 185 inquiries. Some of these 185 were follow up questions from an original discussion.
During the first 2 weeks the questions were predominantly on how to apply for an EIDL grant or loan, and how to apply for a PPP loan. Many clients had problems finding a bank that could help them with their applications, and many also had problems that the banks and the SBA were generally not available to answer questions. There were many stories of frustrations, particularly with the banks and particularly with BOA. In most cases, our group was able to help the clients better understand the process, and to know what to expect. In some cases, we recommended going to a new bank, and in others we had to simply tell the client to be patient and wait to hear back.
During the past 2 weeks, our conversations have focused much more on situations where the money has come through, and our clients want advice on how to spend the money in order to maximize forgiveness. Because the PPP was not very well thought out by Congress, these conversations could be complicated. While the intention of Congress was to have companies hire back their employees, many of the clients were hesitant to hire back people they had no work for, even if they knew the government would pay them back. In many cases, we have urged our clients to apply for regular unemployment, if they qualified, or for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that has been up and running for 3 weeks now.
We have all talked with company owners who have gotten their money, and will be able to profit in a meaningful way from the PPP program and/or the EIDL grants and loans. We have also all spoken with smaller owners who didn’t qualify for PPP, who didn’t get in line for the EIDL grants or loans early enough, and who have virtually nowhere to turn. These calls have been frustrating. For the writer, and I believe for the entire group, it has been very interesting to learn as much as we could about these loan programs, and to help our clients sort through the regulations and come up with the best possible outcome.