Helping local businesses succeed: Chamber hosts teleconference on emergency business loans.

Drew Butler

On Wednesday afternoon the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce held a Zoom teleconference to provide information about the emergency business loans that will soon be available to businesses forced to temporarily close and lay off employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from BancFirst, Citizens Bank, First Bank and First National Bank were on the call to explain some details. Local business owners were invited to watch the presentation and ask questions via chat.

Mita Bates, President and CEO of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, hosted the meeting and spoke about the ongoing — and often changing — situation.

“As you know these are unprecedented times for us, and we’re trying to find our way through situations and events that even six weeks ago we could have never anticipated,” Bates said. “The government has passed several stimulus plans and they will be of benefit to many of our small employers, and our goal today is to get that information to you.”

The meeting focused on the Payday Protection Program which was signed into law on March, 27. The U.S. Small Business Administration described the program as a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The loan will go through local banks, but the SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

The bankers said they were reaching out to their customers who could benefit from the loan and were working on updating their websites with the most current information available. They all agreed this is extremely challenging because the exact details are still evolving and can change from day to day or even hour to hour.

Jenny Rosenfelt from BancFirst spoke about the situation.

“The information we’ve received isn’t the final information, and the US SBA has not provided final guidelines yet to lenders,” Rosenfelt said. “We're in limbo just as much as everyone else.”

The exact documentation needed to apply for the loan is also not yet finalized. However, Brian Stedman of First Bank offered a suggestion about where to start.

“Our recommendation is that you get with your accountant,” Stedman said. “You’re going to need the last eight weeks worth of payroll, and I’ve been told that’s going to represent about 75% of what you’ll be able to cover.”

Bates spoke at the end of the call and said the chamber will be posting updated information to their website. She also said other teleconferences will be coming up in the future.

“As we continue to get updated information it will be on our website,” Bates said. “We’ll put the application up and the information as current as what is available. We’d also like to make you aware we’ll soon be doing a session similar to this with Congressman Tom Cole and other local officials.”

A recording of the full conference call can be viewed from the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.