ORLANDO, Fla. — The Small Business Association is working a backlog of federal loan and grant applications due to limited resources. Now they are working to clear that 600,000-case backlog after working on efficiencies and hiring more people to get those applications processed.
Mike Murray is one of thousands impacted by the backlog. He owns XFX Makeup, during the height of COVID-19, his business came to a standstill.
“Our first trade show of the year was supposed to be in March and it was canceled, and then every other trade show with the exception of one for the entire year canceled,” he said.
Murray lost thousands of dollars. His other job closed too, and he says it took him five months to get unemployment. But toward the end of 2020, hope came from the Small Business Administration.
“Last year I had applied for the EIDL Loan or Grant,” he said. “I got approved for a grant. That money came in last year. It wasn’t much, but at least it was something to get me through.”
With more funding from the federal government, the SBA launched the “Target EIDL” grants in 2021 for business owners like Murray who needed even more support keeping their businesses running.
Murray applied for that grant three months ago to help with expenses for an upcoming trade show. He has been approved and is waiting on the funds to be released, but then another problem popped up.
“It switched to error mode and no one could tell me what the error was,” Murray said.
Spectrum News reached out to the SBA by email about Murray’s delay. They declined to comment but pointed to the basic criteria applicants have to meet. Murray says he meets those criteria.
“It’s an enormous undertaking that they have challenged the SBA to do,” Dr. Chris De Bodisco said.
De Bodisco, a Stetson University economist, said many of the delays and errors are happening because the SBA doesn’t have the resources to handle the influx of small business owners in need.
“I wish the government would dedicate more funds to getting those resources out into the economy,” he said.
In an email, the SBA officials said they are adding more workers to help process more applications and have also found efficiencies, increasing the number of applications each worker can process from two per day to 15. They say they’ve cleared 300,000 applications from the backlog in the past few weeks.
This move a step in the right direction, helping small business owners like Murray get the funds they need in timely manner to keep businesses running smoothly.