'It's frightening': Some small business owners still struggle to apply for federal relief program

Elaina Athans Image
Monday, April 13, 2020
EMBED <>More Videos

Some small business owners are struggling to keep up their sales while fighting for federal dollars.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some small business owners are struggling to keep up their sales while fighting for federal dollars.

More than a week after the Paycheck Protection Program launched, some business owners said they still haven't been able to apply for a loan.

Oak City Meatball owner Ken Yowell is doing everything he can to push through the difficult times. He's running delivery orders himself. He's also selling cleaning supplies at his restaurant.

THE LATEST: Live updates about COVID-19 in NC

"It's frightening to think that if we don't get some real help or some real answers very soon, you'll see a lot of restaurants close, never to reopen," he said.

Yowell said the community has been great and he appreciated of every bit of business he gets these days. He just wishes his primary bank would show the same kind of support.

He said his bank, Wells Fargo, shut him out of the application process.

"I was very upset and felt pretty defeated," said Yowell. "Here's this program that is supposed to help keep us alive, help keep our staff employed, help give us a chance to try and make it through this and the opportunity to even apply was gone before we even got a chance to try and start the process."

Wells Fargo recently updated its website and encouraged customers to look elsewhere for funding.

The company wrote, "Because we have experienced significant interest in the program and longer processing times, customers may also visit the SBA website to identify other SBA lenders. "

ABC11 reached out to some out of country's largest banks to see how the applications process is going.

Bank of America, which is based in North Carolina, has received 330,000 applications to date totaling $45 billion dollars.

A spokesperson wouldn't say if money is being distributed, but said thousands of people are working on the issue right now.

Wells Fargo would not comment on how many applications the company has received or if funds are leaving the financial institution.

The company said in a statement, ""We are committed to responsibly assisting as many small businesses as possible given the realities of both this unprecedented situation and the tremendous interest."

Yowell has started to work with another bank and is hopeful that'll put him on a path for much needed relief.

CORONAVIRUS MAP: Tracking North Carolina COVID-19 cases

"It feels like what the government has done is kind of passed this on for small businesses to distribute unemployment to the staff, which is a job that I'm happy to take on if it means that my staff has the financial means to live off for the next few months," said Yowell.

The takeaway for small businesses owners - If you're facing roadblocks with your primary bank, if might be worth something reach out to smaller lender and see if they could help you.

Have a question about coronavirus? Send it to us here.