Some small businesses struggle to apply for Paycheck Protection while others cash checks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Reviews are mixed about the success of a $350 billion federal stimulus program that was designed to help keep struggling businesses afloat.

Although many businesses can’t even get their phone calls returned to apply for the money, others have already cashed their checks.

It’s all part of the controversy surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program being administered by local banks.

According to experts, many banks are reluctant to make the loans because of the lack of clarity from the Small Business Administration over how the program will operate.

But that hasn’t slowed down UMB, which has already approved more than $1 billion in loans this week.

“We thought it was our patriotic duty just to jump in and provide that capital to small businesses because we thought it was the best way to get the economy rolling again,” UMB President Mariner Kemper said.

That’s good news for Laura Norris, owner of Ragazza Restaurant near Kansas City’s Westport neighborhood.

Norris is trying to hold onto as many of her staff as she can by selling her famous lasagnas to go. But she’s still still losing money every day.

So like millions of other small businesses, she applied for Payroll Protection loan. She applied for $200,000 from UMB.

“I applied for the Payroll Protection plan on Friday and was notified on Tuesday I was approved,” Norris said.” I wasn’t expecting it to be that fast frankly.”

Frankly, it hasn’t been that fast for many others, including Scott Lewis who owns Big Guy’s Auto in Smithville. He’s been trying all week to apply at his bank for a $7,000 loan.

It’s hard to even get a call to them, and they tell you they are going to call you back and you hear nothing. It’s kind of frustrating.”

The loans are supposed to allow businesses to keep their employees off of unemployment and on the payroll for up to eight weeks. The money won’t have to be repaid if it’s used to pay employees.

Norris has yet to receive her money, but Kemper said she should have it Monday at the latest.

Help can’t come soon enough.

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