PPP loans: Chicago-area small businesses turn to community banks after missing out on 1st wave of COVID-19 federal loans

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While another round of federal funding is on its way to small business owners, some shut out of the previous wave of COVID-19 loans are turning to community banks for help.

At Seaway Self-Help Federal Credit Union locations across Illinois, staff members are getting ready to have their customers in line for the next round of federal loans.

"Wherever we could find an extra body, we've tried to incorporate that talent to get these applications processed," said Daryl Newell, the credit union's president.

Seaway would be among those to qualify for money set aside for small banks in the latest federal funding package. But Newell acknowledged the need of business owners, especially in communities of color, is greater than what's proposed.

"It's probably not going to be enough to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to keep their employees on the job," Newell said.

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Erskine Reeves, who runs a barber school and three barbershops and salons in the suburbs, said, "It's been really tough."

The Bellwood native has 25 employees, as well as dozens of students who are trying to finish certifications online but left with no place to work.

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Reeves applied for a federal loan through a large bank. He said he felt overlooked.

Reeves turned to Seaway, and hopes to get help so he and his employees can continue their work in the shops and community.

"Being an example to young people, you can make money legitimately. It's very important we support the barbershops and salons. We are often in the pillars in the community," Reeves said.

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In the last round of federal funding for the payroll protection program, Seaway secured 27 loans for small businesses and nonprofits in Illinois, translating into 250 jobs in communities of color.

Now, applications are being processed to try and get those that missed out the first round to be in position for federal loan approval.
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