Westfield Bank processes hundreds of small business loans

WESTFIELD – The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic effect on the economy, negatively impacting people’s lives and taking a financial toll on local businesses as they remain shut down or operate in a limited capacity during this pandemic.
The federal government recently enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act opening up financial assistance for nearly every taxpayer in this country. Also, as a part of the CARES Act, comes a new program, the Paycheck Protection Program.
Under this new program, small businesses can now apply for loans that provide funds that could pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits, as well as to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
“The PPP is absolutely a great, huge step forward to getting the economy up and running again,” said Westfield Bank Senior Vice President Tom Cebula, who also serves at the Team Leader for Small Businesses. “This is giving businesses a nice shot in the arm to get back up on their feet – and, in some cases, not even come out of their pocket.”
Cebula and his team of bankers have been working around the clock, facilitating the loan process for small businesses in Westfield and all throughout Western Massachusetts. Westfield Bank has mobilized its staff by re-organizing its human resources division to process applications by entering data for customers and non-customers alike.
As of late Tuesday, Westfield Bank had received 850 applications, according to Cebula, with 90 percent of those applications coming from small businesses for customers and non-customers all throughout Western Mass.

Westfield Bank Vice President

“The whole point [of this program] is to get your people back working and get paid on payroll – all on the government dime,” Cebula said.
Loan applicants who follow each of the steps and meet specific requirements are eligible to have a portion or their entire loan forgiven by the government. Those who do not satisfy all of the criteria will be required to pay back all of the money through short-term payments.
Cebula said Westfield Bank is accustomed to processing small business loan applications on a weekly, often daily, basis. The only difference, according to Cebula, is that they are now facilitating these requests at a much higher rate.
Cebula also noted that the rate of the loan approval is very high, and that the vast majority of loans that are denied are for incomplete applications that are often missing payroll related documents. The rest simply just don’t meet the criteria set forth by the federal government.
“The borrower still has to do their due diligence first,” Cebula said. “That means provide the necessary documents, go through the full process, and await approval.”
The stimulus package was created as a short-term fix to get through the next 3-6 months.
“This will give these businesses a lifeline to survive,” Cebula said.
Cebula cautions small business owners who receive loans through the CARES Act that it will be critical for them to continue to keep good records with receipts validating the use of the funds to have a portion of that money forgiven.
As of press time, the government had not disbursed any money. No other details were provided as to when the loan monies would be made available.
Said Cebula: “The hope is turn the switch back on sooner rather than later in the economy and businesses can go back to what they were doing so well.”
For more information or to apply for a small business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, visit westfieldbank.com. A breakdown of relief options and additional resources is also available at sba.gov.

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