Ready (again) to Better Support Members
UPDATE 6/30/2020: SBA portal has now closed and loan funds have expired. No further PPP loan applications can be accepted or processed.
Our members, like so many businesses, need the support offered through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). As a cooperative, we are committed to providing access to this program for our members.
The second wave of funding is upon us. Our crash course into the Small Business Administration (SBA) process during the first wave has us optimistic that our new, improved process will result in even more members getting the funding they need with the service experience they deserve.
The Race of Wave 1The trip was sudden, a ride we’d rather our members never had to experience. Some of the curves have been sharp and some members have regrettably felt it. Under normal circumstances, GreenStone would have smoothed the path before opening it to our members. With the fast track announcement of the CARES Act, and Farm Credit’s authorization, we instead had to learn along the way.
Gratefully, farmers and agribusinesses were recognized as critically impacted by the pandemic, and therefore Farm Credit – the 70+ associations like GreenStone which have always been here as financial partners for these essential industries – were authorized to participate with SBA in the PPP. This left us to figure out how to participate next to the thousands of banks across the country that had systems already built to work with SBA every day. We quickly partnered with a third party to provide the gateway to the SBA, and just as quickly realized several other institutions did the same, and a bottleneck ensued.
A swift recalculation took us down the direct path to SBA loan transmission. Within days, GreenStone had been granted direct access to SBA, and had certified and trained approximately 20 staff who immediately began submitting applications to SBA. With the highest rate of entry success coming in off-hours when fewer banks were submitting applications, we orchestrated three shifts of staff working around the clock to manually key applications into SBA’s system.
In 60 hours, just three days, this team entered over 800 of our members’ PPP applications for approval and funding by SBA before the dollars ran out. In the end, GreenStone assisted about 840 members secure nearly $120 million in PPP loan support, and was one of less than a dozen Farm Credits across the country able to find a way to fully open the door to submit members’ PPP applications.
The Result, The Plan
Was it too little, too late for some of our members? Absolutely, our customers always come first and we regret we couldn’t offer a better solution more promptly to every member.
Was it too much, too fast for staff? Nearly, but going from one approved SBA application to 840, and getting them in under the clock while the funding was still available, is 840 customer wins worth celebrating!
Will it be the same this time, for wave two of funding available for the PPP? It will be better, with new tools and a streamlined bridge connecting us into the SBA. We’ve used these last few days to learn even more, and are better prepared with a much smoother process for customers and an expedited, more automated connection with SBA.
It’s Time – Apply NowWhen the first wave of funding ran out, GreenStone was at a fork in the road: halt new applications and focus on preparing those we did serve for loan forgiveness, or revise our process and support more members when, if, more funding is allocated. Realizing the loan forgiveness aspect of PPP could be much like the first few miles of the application journey, with unmarked bumps and turns, we still feel confident we have found a way to do both. Because, our commitment is to ALL our members, and we never stop finding new ways to better support them!
To expedite application submission into SBA, we’ll now send any interested member a link to apply directly online. Our financial services officers will work with each applicant through the process, help to determine the supporting documents necessary, and will then quickly and seamlessly review and submit applications automatically to SBA. Members just need to call their financial services officer to get started!
While the funding will continue to be the unknown, the improved process and expedited submission experience will allow even more members to have the best opportunity for the financial support they need during these challenging times.
Click here to learn more about the SBA PPP loan and forgiveness details.