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Financial Institutions Help Wave Of Businessowners Apply For Paycheck Protection

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It’s an interesting time to work for a financial institution.

With the recent passage of the federal CARES Act, banks and credit unions are fielding a wave of requests by businesses looking for payroll relief under the new Paycheck Protection Program.

And Ezra Eckhardt is right in the middle of it.

Eckhardt is the CEO of Spokane Teachers’ Credit Union.

“We have about 400 members that are in the process right now and some others that are evaluating whether it’s a good fit for them," Eckhardt said. "We know that there are thousands of small businesses here in Spokane and Kootenai County that are evaluating and working with their financial institutions on applying as well.”

Because the law and the systems created by it are so new, Eckhardt says his employees are learning on the fly so they can guide customers through it. He says businesses can’t apply for the payroll help online. It’s something they need to do on paper and with documentation.

“As far as I can tell, there are about seven documents that you need to have on hand. Some of your payroll information, a summarized copy of your most recent tax return, copy of your drivers’ license," he said.

He says almost any small business should be able to qualify. But the question is, will there be enough money for those who do apply?

“The program is currently capped at $350 billion, which sounds like a huge amount, until you start to look at the number of small businesses in the United States that would qualify, so just based on the trend rate, I think it is entirely possible that the $350 billion could be spoken for either later this week or the early part of next week," Eckhardt said.

He says the Paycheck Protection Program requires recipients to spend at least 75% of the money they receive from the government on payroll. And he says they must retain at least 90% of their staffs.

He says people interested in applying can visit the Small Business Administration website and find the guidelines and qualifications. He says they can also find information at the websites of any financial institution.