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South Florida small business owners frustrated with Wells Fargo, Paycheck Protection Program

PPP program reaches its $349 billion lending limit
Mary Shea (left) and Bonnie Rubin
Posted at 1:42 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 18:49:48-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Small business owners in South Florida continue to be frustrated by the loan programs meant to help them from the downturn in the economy from the coronavirus.

The business owners said they are trying to get a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is "designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll."

About $349 billion was available for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

Bulldog Fence Company in Delray Beach and Footprints Preschool in Lighthouse Point both bank with Wells Fargo.

Mary Shea with Bulldog Fence said Wells Fargo never gave her the opportunity to apply for the PPP. She said she filled out basic information online and was told to go apply somewhere else in an emailed response.

“Thanks for you interest, we urge you to apply through other SBA lenders as we know money is being depleted,” said Shea.

Bonnie Rubin with Footprints Preschool said she got the same message. She said she has been in-and-out of contact with Wells Fargo for two weeks and finally filled out an application on Wednesday.

“I finally filled out my PPP, but I am still in the queue, so that doesn’t mean I am getting anything,” said Rubin.

Both business owners said its upsetting after learning Thursday that the PPP had reached its $349 billion lending limit.

Shea said she feels like she missed out on a loan because Wells Fargo didn’t help any small business.

“If you were with a small community bank, you were a winner," Shea said. “We are left out because of Wells Fargo failing us.”

An agreement must be made between Republicans and Democrats during a legislative meeting on Thursday to replenish the loan program, according to a CNN report.

"I will never do business with a large bank again and be put in this position -- ever. I thought being with a large bank was safer," said Shea.

Wells Fargo released the follow statement Thursday regarding the Paycheck Protection Progam:

“We are doing everything we can to help our small business customers navigate this difficult and uncertain time. Over the past week we have mobilized hundreds of Wells Fargo employees and launched new automation and technology so we can process the extremely high volume of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications. Today the SBA announced that the $349 billion in congressional funding for the PPP has been fully allocated to thousands of participating lenders, of which Wells Fargo is one. We will continue to prepare applications in our existing pipeline from small and mid-size businesses and will submit them to the SBA when funds become available. Given the magnitude of the crisis the country is facing, we are hopeful that Congress will approve additional funds for the PPP and we will continue accepting new applications so we will be ready to proceed if and when that happens. We stand ready to help the hundreds of thousands of customers waiting for this much needed assistance during these unprecedented times.”

Gabriela Lambertus

Assistant Vice President, Corporate Communications
South and Central Florida Region