Round 2 of the Payroll Protection Program Seeks Wider Distribution to Smaller Firms

The SBA took steps to more fairly distribute the next $310 billion in payroll protection loans.

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Banks logging into the Small Business Administration loan website for round 2 of the payroll protection program found things had changed.

No longer could they submit 15,000 applications at once for the first-come, first-served loans, which are forgiven if the affected business keeps paying workers for eight weeks.

The new maximum for bulk applications is 5,000.

The administration is also slowing down the process, so a broader range of banks has a better chance of getting applications processed.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), an architect of the program which previously provided $342 billion, said early returns indicate the new process is helping smaller businesses get access to loans.

The average loan amount, which is pegged to reflect 2.5 times an applicant's monthly payroll, was around $100,000 - about half the average amount loaned to each business in Round 1.

"That's a pretty good sign so far," he said. "It indicates that in that first batch we are reaching ... more smaller businesses, microbusinesses, mom-and-pops, but also independent contractors, 1099ers, people in the gig economy."

In Round 1, some large publicly traded companies were able to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, even though they had many more than 500 employees - the typical maximum for small-business designation.

Congress acceded to lobbyists who wanted the definition changed to include hotel and restaurant chains that employed fewer than 500 per location.

Following media reports, many of those companies have returned the money - a total of $2 billion that is being added to the second tranche.

In addition, some private businesses that got money also are returning their loans.

Among them: the Los Angeles Lakers, a $4 billion NBA franchise that gave back $4.6 million it obtained through the PPP.

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