Lubbock businesses benefit from small biz loans

By Sarah Self-Walbrick

Posted Apr 19, 2020 at 12:01 AM

Updated Apr 20, 2020 at 11:32 AM

 Less than two weeks after it launched, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program exhausted its $349 billion loan pool Thursday, but Lubbock-area businesses were able to benefit before the well ran dry.

The loans, one of a few financial assistance opportunities offered by the federal department and approved by the CARES Act, incentivized employers to keep workers on the payroll while many businesses are shut down or operating differently during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds could be used for payroll, rent, mortgage or utilities, and could be forgiven if no employees were laid off over eight weeks.

Vista Bank’s Lubbock Market President Brian Pierce said his bank helped secure more than 700 loans, totaling more than $100 million bank wide.

Getting paperwork in order and answering customers’ questions doesn’t stop just because the funds have. With a first-in-line mentality, Pierce said they are still encouraging businesses to prepare applications in hopes more money will become available.

“It’s all needed,” Pierce said. “No matter what size business, everyone needs the help right now.”

Jeff McCreight, owner of Back 40 Grill who banks with Vista Bank, said the PPP loan he received has allowed him to keep about 10 full-time employees on the payroll while the restaurant offers curbside food pickup and delivery. Generous tips from customers have helped those employees, too.

McCreight said he is eager for business to get back to normal, or some version of it, but is comforted in knowing that Back 40 Grill will fully return when allowed.

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