The federal PPP fund for small businesses is out of money: Answers to your questions about it

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- More than 23,000 small business owners have been approved for Paycheck Protection Program loans in North Carolina and $5.8 billion has been shelled out, according to the latest data from the United States Small Business Administration.

The program, or PPP, offers a lifeline. Small businesses can use the money to payroll costs, group healthcare, mortgage interest payments, rent and utilities.

The demand has been incredibility strong and on Thursday morning, the federal government announced the program had hit its ceiling and ran out of money.

Wake County-based bank North State says staff has been working seven days a week securing loans for customers from the program, which was tossed in their laps.

"We're flying the plane and building it at the same time, so it's been very difficult," said North State Chief Credit Officer Brian Hedges.

'We're ecstatic': Raleigh small business can pay rent, employees thanks to federal funds from PPP

Here are some frequently asked questions about the program:

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Who is going to monitor that these small business owners are hiring back staff?

"It's on them (small business owners) to verify that and follow through with that," said Hedges. "It is a trust system."

What happens if an employer gets a loan and doesn't hire back everybody, perhaps only 50 percent of the workforce returns?

"That forgiveness will be prorated," said Hedges. "They'll (small business owner) have a balance that they'll have to pay back, which is paid over a two-year period and it has an interest rate of 1 percent."

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You have to keep all employees on the payroll until the end of June to have the full amount of payroll costs forgiven at 100 percent.

What about the farmers? Agriculture is one of our leading economic drivers, but can these stewards of the land tap into these relief funds?

"Farms are definitely able to do that because they employees all over the state," said Hedges. "I personally worked with one farm, that is here local, and put them through the process and they're getting their funds as well."

SmartAsset finds that North Carolina is among the top 25 states in the country with small businesses.

North State bank says while funds have dried up for PPP loans, there are still other options for those who are struggling.

"We're glad to be able to help them in this process cause they've gone through a lot," said Hedges.

So here's the takeaway - if you weren't able to get loan in time, there still might be opportunity. Bankers are expecting the federal government to pour in another batch of money to help small business owners.

Congress is working to approve an additional $250 billion for the program.
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