Pamplin Media Group – Lake Oswego businesses struggle to get loans

Many small business owners who have applied for federal and state funding have yet to receive help


Expect. It seems to be a common theme among businesses across the country – waiting on the phone, waiting for approval of the application, waiting for help.

And at Lake Oswego, that’s right.

Most local businesses that have been severely curtailed by Gov. Kate Brown’s order to shut down all non-essential businesses have been looking for ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 health crisis.

As the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) law – a $ 2 trillion economic relief program to help workers, families and small businesses – was passed by Congress last month, most of the small businesses in Lake Oswego have yet to receive any assistance.

The Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan have been the main sources of funding for small businesses. But most of the Lake Oswego companies that applied are still waiting in the queue to receive funds or hear from them.

As of April 23, both loan programs have run out and neither are accepting new requests, although the Senate and House have approved another $ 484 billion stimulus package with funds to revive these programs and the president Donald Trump signed this bill on Friday.

Lisa Strauch, who owns Lake Oswego Family Dentistry with her business partner Carrie Laird, applied for the PPP loan through Columbia Bank on the day the application was posted. So far, they have not received any funding.

“We haven’t heard of any dentist who (had) received funding,” Strauch said. “The bank was great, but it was clearly an overwhelming process and software glitches and an overrun system created problems. The bank is still hoping to help if more funding is available. been put in a difficult position as a middleman between small business and government.

Joe Buck, owner of Gubanc’s Pub and Babica Hen, experienced similar frustrations.

While his restaurants are open for take-out at the Babica Hen site, he has had to go from over 70 employees to just three, including himself.

He also applied for commercial loans like PPP and EIDL, and encountered issues with the online application process through Wells Fargo.

“Whether you are a client or not, they already had too many applications,” Buck said, adding that he had been in the queue for a while and received periodic emails.

He also applied to a few other banks for PPP and had a similar experience.

“You have a name in the queue and that’s it,” Buck said.

Last week, Buck said he received an email from Wells Fargo saying he could apply and he did. But the next morning, the program ran out of funding.

“Myself and… so many others are all pretty frustrated,” Buck said. “We are all very worried.”

According to Julia Fowler, president of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce – and owner of Blue Moon Café – a common theme seems to be the lack of communication from financial institutions.

“I’m saddened to share that we’ve mostly heard all the stories of frustration and disappointment… Every day seems like an eternity when you wait to hear,” Fowler said, adding that it’s hard for businesses to make a plan to reopen without knowing if loans are available for their business. “Our business owners hoped that these programs would be easy to access, paperless and adequately funded. None of these things seem to be true.

House members sent a letter to Oregon state and federal delegates expressing their frustrations with the lack of post-application notification and for those who have reached the application stage, stagnating in the queue, and encouraged more funding for Oregon business aid.

“On behalf of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce and our local business community, we say that small businesses in Oregon and their employees are suffering, frustrated, and failing to see the relief promised by the CARES Act,” we read in the letter. “Our local businesses employ a wide range of Oregonians and right now their future, like that of their employers, is uncertain. Allow our local businesses and the community members we employ a chance to survive. this crisis requires significant and immediate assistance. ”

Lisa Shaw-Ryan, who owns Chuckie Pies and Casa Pequena Taqueria – and formerly Chuck’s Place before its recent closure – has done business with Umpqua Bank for over 10 years and has had good experience applying for PPP loans through them. COURTESY PHOTO - Lisa Shaw-Ryan and her husband, Chuck, have had a good experience applying for PPP for their two current businesses.

It was finally approved but has not yet received funding.

“They were so helpful and I’ve heard from others that they don’t have that experience,” Shaw-Ryan said.

Not all businesses were eligible.

Ironlight, the event center that was to open at the start of the pandemic was not eligible for federal loans because they technically do not have a payroll yet, according to Taryn Hatchel, one of the owners.

“We’re not technically employees ourselves yet,” she said. “At the moment, we can’t host anything, which is really our only source of income.”

Although the event center is not eligible for federal loans, Hatchel said it received one of the city’s business assistance grants.

“The city has been incredibly easy to manage and very homely,” Hatchel said.

But while companies are in limbo to receive funding, the overhead costs of rent, utilities and payroll for those still employed have not gone away.

Shaw-Ryan has closed Chuck’s Place permanently amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I cannot sign a lease at this time with this level of uncertainty and the terms one would expect,” she said. “I’m looking for people who want to think about the future and want to work with me and I just couldn’t get to this place with the owner of Chuck’s Place.”

Along with her two other businesses, she said she had better communication with her owners. The two asked if she had ever received funding from any source.

“It is clear that there is still a lack of understanding on (what) the PPP is really for: the payroll and a very small percentage of it can be used for rent, utilities or payment. interest, ”Shaw-Ryan said. At least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll for it to be canceled. “Homeowners can also apply for (the) EIDL loan and I hope they are.”

Strauch, on the other hand, did not have a good relationship with his owner during this time.

When the Oregon Dental Association announced that all dental offices were to close for elective care until June 15 – although the governor announced on April 23 that dental offices could resume elective procedures on May 1 – to patient and employee safety, Strauch and Laird approached their owner. But the conversation was not constructive.

They claimed his answer was no and he threatened to take legal action and start moving their equipment out of the building if they were unable to pay the rent.

“Right now the environment is ‘we’re all in the same boat’,” Strauch said. “He was just very off-putting.”

The owner did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Buck said his landlord relied on P3 help, which would be a good solution to pay the rent. But at this point, everyone is just holding their breath, he said. For the record, Buck said he heard positive things about landlord-tenant relations.

“We all know we’re all in the same boat. There’s really nowhere to go,” Buck said. “At some point, bills are due for everyone.”


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