Wilmington bank processes thousands of PPP loans, allowing businesses and non-profits to stay afloat

Wilmington's Live Oak Bank approves thousands of Paycheck Protection Program loans

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington-based Live Oak Bank has processed thousands of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, helping thousands of small business owners and non-profit organizations continue to pay more than 125,000 employees, according to the bank.

The second round of the federal aid program opened with an additional $310 billion in funding after the first round of $350 billion ran out of money.

Euran Daniels got the money he needed to pay rent and help keep employees on the payroll right before the first round closed but he had to turn to a different lender.

Daniels owns Daniels Tours, a transportation company that provides charter buses, group tours, airport shuttles, sightseeing, and cruises.

“We submitted everything that we needed to do at that time per the request of that bank," Daniels explained. "However, we were not receiving any type of response from them. As the days grew, we were hearing in the news that the funds were running very low and that there was a very good chance that the funds would run out. So at that point, we started looking at other options.”

Daniels worked with Live Oak Bank in the past and decided to apply for the PPP loan with the Wilmington-based bank. About a week later, he got the money.

“I’m grateful that I received the guidance to pursue other opportunities because when we did, it was very valuable to us," Daniels said.

Daniels said part of what made the process with Live Oak go so smoothly was that he was prepared and organized.

“We had our paperwork in place,” Daniels explained. “Any documentation was that requested, we were able to put our hands on it very quickly. That was extremely helpful. My recommendation: make sure all your paperwork is in place and gather that paperwork."

Live Oak Bank, which only had a small footprint in Wilmington prior to the launch of the PPP program, focused on reaching out to Wilmington-based businesses and non-profits, after helping its existing clients.

“In the first round, we processed 5,000 loans, which is by context four times more loans than the bank did all of last year,” Garriott said. “We did that in the course of two weeks. About 3,000 of those loans were for our existing customers and that was our first focus. Then, we turned our attention to the local Wilmington community and some of the industry verticals that were in. Then, in the second round, we already served all of our existing customers so we spent all of our attention helping out other small businesses.”

As a result, Huntley Garriott, the president of the bank, said Live Oak processed 600 loans worth about $60 million in the Wilmington community.

Garriott believes this translates to employers being able to retain 8,000 jobs in Wilmington.

“We say that we are in the American dream business, helping to finance and support small business owners and they really are not just terms in the statistics, in terms of jobs and new jobs but also in terms of the culture, the local business owner, whether it’s a restaurant or a hardware store or distribution company or transportation business or manufacturer, they really are the backbone of the communities and the economy as well.”

While there have been criticisms of the program and reports about some large public companies receiving loans meant for small business owners, Garriott said the program is working.

“To put this much capital in the hands of small businesses this quickly, I think there’s never going to be an absolutely perfect program but I think between the administration, the Treasury Department and the SBA (Small Business Administration), they designed something that really has worked and worked well,” he said.

Daniels said he is networking with other business owners to discuss how to best go about surviving this unprecedented time.

“They have been very instrumental in telling us what has worked for them and what has not worked for them,” said Daniels. “'Go here, go there, don’t do this, this hasn’t worked for us.' Learning those things has allowed me to advance through this entire process without having to make the same mistakes that some of my peers have made."

Overall, Daniels said don’t give up. He says if one bank isn’t working for you, try another.

“Just continue to stay connected with whomever your lender is,” said Daniels. “There are many great resources in the community that can help you so I would definitely start there if you’re looking for guidance.”

Some of those resources include Small Business Centers.

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