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Cookie Bakery Owner On Her Application For Small Business Relief Funds

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

What now? That's a question many small-business owners are hurling into the universe today. And that's because the $350 billion set aside by Congress to help small-business owners through this economic lockdown, it ran out yesterday.

ALISA CHANG, HOST:

We spoke with Tina Rexing of T-Rex Cookies in Minneapolis about the application process early last week, just a few days after the program went live.

TINA REXING: That was Monday. Today is Friday. I'm kind of losing track of days now.

KELLY: When we first talked to her, she was cautiously optimistic. She had submitted an application to her bank and was waiting to hear back. She said the process, not so bad - famous last words.

CHANG: Well, when we caught up with her today, Rexing said she had to resubmit the application because her bank disputed her payroll calculations. The whole point behind this program is that small-business owners would have to keep people on their payrolls in order to get forgivable loans.

REXING: There was a lot of back and forth. Actually, it probably took almost two days between my bank and my accountant to hash out the fact that small companies whose owners pay themselves count as payroll.

KELLY: Two days - that is a lot of time when a rescue loan is on the line. Finally, some words that pass as reassuring in these times.

REXING: My banker did say that, OK, it's in a pile.

CHANG: The application was in a pile - the pile it needed to be in in order to move to the next step. That was Monday this week. It has been a nail-biter for Rexing, but she doesn't blame her bank.

KELLY: Congress wanted these loans serviced by banks, not directly by the Small Business Administration, or SBA. But the SBA still had to tell the banks how the process would work.

REXING: I think there's a lot of SBA confusion in terms of what the banks can and cannot approve and what's eligible and what's not eligible, that the banks are taking it upon themselves to police that.

CHANG: That confusion makes Rexing fear that her loan won't come through, even though her application is in better shape than some others.

REXING: They made me feel a little bit better saying that because your loan has an account number assigned to it, you have money earmarked for you from the SBA.

KELLY: For now, Rexing says she will believe she's approved when the money is in her bank account.

REXING: I mean, I'll keep trying, but I can't bank on it - no pun intended - because, you know, in terms of being a small business, I just have to keep on keeping on.

CHANG: Congress is currently negotiating for an increase in funding for the program. Until then, small-business owners like Rexing are waiting for help and for this crisis to be over.

(SOUNDBITE OF RODRIGO Y GABRIELA'S "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.