Coronavirus Chicago: Small businesses turn to community banks after missing 1st wave of COVID-19 federal loans

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

At Seaway Self-Help federal credit union branches across Illinois, staff members are preparing to get their clients online for the next round of federal loans.

“Wherever we could find an additional agency, we tried to incorporate that talent in handling these requests,” said Daryl Newell, president of the credit union.

The Seaway would be among those that would qualify for the money set aside for small banks in the latest federal funding program. But Newell recognized that the need of business owners, especially in communities of color, is greater than what is on offer.

“It probably won’t be enough to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to keep their employees at work,” Newell said.

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Erskine Reeves, who runs a barbering school and three suburban barber shops and salons, said: “It was really tough.”

The Bellwood native has 25 employees, as well as dozens of students trying to complete their certifications online but no longer have room to work.

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Reeves applied for a federal loan through a major bank. He said he felt forgotten.

Reeves has turned to Seaway and is hoping for some help so he and his employees can continue their work in the stores and in the community.

“By being an example to young people, you can legitimately earn money. It is very important that we support barbershops and barbershops. We are often the mainstays of the community,” said Reeves .

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In the latest round of federal funding for the wage protection program, Seaway secured 27 loans for Illinois small businesses and nonprofits, resulting in 250 jobs in communities of color.

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

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