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Banks operating in Mississippi have helped customers receive billions in SBA support

JANITA STEWART

By BECKY GILLETTE

The first round of Payroll Protection Program (PPP) provided by the Small Business Administration resulted in 20,784 loans for $2.5 billion to Mississippi businesses and non-profits. SBA Mississippi District Director Janita R. Stewart said that represented an astronomical number of loans.

A total equal to 14 years of SBA loans were made in less than 14 days, Stewart said.

Hancock Whitney has helped to bring more than $2.4 billion to 12,000-plus Gulf South businesses through rounds one and two of the SBA PPP. Of the PPP loans for which Hancock Whitney received approvals, 67 percent of the total number of loans approved are for loan amounts less than $100,000. More than 88 percent of these approved loans are for a loan amount under $350,000, ensuring the money was provided to the Gulf South’s smaller businesses.

John Hairston

“Our team mobilized quickly and has done an exceptional job processing thousands of applications in a very dynamic and changing environment,” said Hancock Whitney President and CEO John M. Hairston. “We were able to help our small business clients keep their teams employed and ready to reopen.”

Hancock Whitney Chief Operating Officer Shane Loper said the SBA‘s eTran loan-approval technology was designed for a steady and modest volume, and the PPP created a massive avalanche of volume. He said the SBA recovered quickly from this unprecedented volume and by the end of the first funding tranche had a relatively stable platform in place.

For the second funding tranche, the SBA put in place a “pacing process” at 350 loans per hour per bank to manage the volume on the SBA systems. As well, they provided banks with less than $1 billion in assets dedicated processing periods.

“The SBA also worked tirelessly to develop creative ways to reduce the volume on the SBA’s systems,” Loper said. “One creative solution was to allow banks with more than 5,000 loan applications to send those applications in a single data file for bulk processing. Hancock Whitney participated in that process, helping the SBA to reduce eTran volumes, and subsequently through all input processes gained approval for more than 12,000 loan applications for more than $2.4 billion dollars delivered to small businesses.”

SHANE LOPER

Loper said more than 13 percent of businesses served by Hancock Whitney applied for and received a PPP loan, and all businesses that applied and kept a completed application active with Hancock Whitney have been approved.

“Our team mobilized quickly in the days leading up to taking applications and have done an exceptional job processing thousands of applications in a very dynamic and changing environment,” Loper said. “Hancock Whitney opted to have bankers directly interface with clients for the application process. Once we had the completed application, our bankers worked around the clock to input those applications into our automated system. We had the capacity to process over 1,000 applications per hour in the second funding tranche. The SBA’s ‘pacing process’ limitations and the opportunity to send a bulk file facilitated one big delivery of approved applications for our small business clients.”

Loper said there is no doubt the program helped their small business clients keep their doors open and people employed, which helped sustain their communities’ economies.

“We’ve seen businesses on social media attesting to the fact that their PPP loans have been the life preservers that have helped keep them afloat during the pandemic,” Loper said. “For many small businesses facing the prospect of having to close permanently because of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, the PPP loans have been essential. The next step in the PPP process is loan forgiveness.  Each bank that participated in the PPP program will process a forgiveness application for their borrowers. The SBA has published and frequently revises the PPP Q&A document on its website www.sba.gov. All small businesses should read this document and understand the SBA’s guidance to borrowers. As banks prepare for loan forgiveness, they will provide more information on the application process to borrowers. Guidance on loan forgiveness requirements should be published by the SBA in the coming weeks.”

ROBERT LEARD

If a consumer encounters financial difficulty because of the pandemic and feels they may not be able to pay a mortgage, Loper said they should work directly and proactively with their bank to determine what assistance may be available. Hancock Whitney maintains a special page at www.hancockwhitney.com/covid19 which includes timely updates on locations and hours of operation, fraud prevention tips, and resources and assistance such as certain fee and loan payment deferral options to help people and businesses affected financially by the novel coronavirus.

Hancock Whitney also continues to offer certain fee and loan payment deferral options to help people and businesses affected financially by the novel coronavirus. More information is available at www.hancockwhitney.com/covid19.

Another of the largest banks that does business in Mississippi, Regions Bank, has also facilitated an impressive number of PPP loans, a total of $2.8 billion.

“We understand how important these loans are to small businesses and have substantially increased staffing dedicated to processing and fulfilling applications and automated as much of the process as possible,” said Regions Jackson Market Executive Robert Leard,. “We are pleased that additional funding has been allocated to support the PPP and we are continuing to accept new applications through our branches.”

Leard said they are all motivated by commitment to their customers. There is no doubt that the program has had many Regions associates working long hours and weekends over the past several weeks. 

“It’s important to point out that we are here to serve our customers and communities in the difficult times, as well as, the good,” Leard said. “Under the CARES Act that authorized the PPP, all or some portion of the loan principal and accrued interest can be forgiven if borrowers use the loan proceeds for purposes that fully meet the forgiveness requirements issued by the SBA. Given the modifications to the program since it was introduced, we are strongly encouraging PPP borrowers to frequently check information available at SBA website or at the U.S. Treasury site on the forgiveness portion of the PPP.”

Leard said their bankers are also reaching out to customers directly to discuss their unique situations and how Regions can assist through an array of potential solutions.

“Regions has an established Customer Assistance Program and our bankers have many years of experience working with customers through natural disasters and market disruptions to address their specific needs,” Leard said. “We have a variety of assistance offers to help people and businesses affected by the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including mortgage and loan payment assistance, fee waivers, and more. CLICK HERE to get details that are available on regions.com.

Also, Regions Bank and the Regions Foundation have committed a combined total of approximately $5 million toward consumer and small-business recovery efforts related to COVID-19. Regions has a 15-state service area in the Midwest, South and Texas. It is one of the nation’s largest providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management and mortgage products and services.

Another major bank in the state that facilitated customers getting large amounts of assistance from the SBA was BancorpSouth.

“In the first round of funding, from April 3 to 16, we processed more than 8,500 loans, worth approximately $1 billion, to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19,” said BancorpSouth Chairman and CEO Dan Rollins. “We’ve continued to see a high volume of loan applications in round two. As of May 11, we’ve provided a total of more than $1.2 billion to small businesses through more than 13,250 PPP loans. These loans are supporting over 160,000 jobs in our communities. This program was targeted to small businesses across America. The large majority of the PPP loans we have originated are to businesses with less than 10 employees. I am very proud our bank has been able to support so many of these small businesses.”

Rollins said their teammates – everyone from relationship managers to IT teams, worked around the clock to help us prepare for PPP. He said one thing that gave them an advantage was the implementation of an automation lending platform for end-to-end processing of PPP loans.

“We were able to move applications through the process smoother and faster and help customers get the funds they needed,” Rollins said. “I would never have imagined we would be able to process so many loans so quickly. But our teammates rose to the occasion and worked evenings and weekends to help process PPP loans for small businesses in need of economic support from COVID-19. I’m proud of the outstanding effort our team has done in such a short time. The dedication and commitment they exhibited to our customers and communities is the solid foundation our company stands upon each day.”

Customers through the entire process to ensure they understood how the loan program works. And customers were very grateful.

“We’ve heard from many of our customers who say the PPP loans are providing the necessary financial relief to help them meet their payroll, preserve jobs and keep their doors open,” Rollins said. “We were pleased to support our customers, especially during this difficult time. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities; therefore, we’re doing everything we can to provide resources and financial relief to help them survive the current conditions. With approximately 40 percent of our loans being under $20,000, it is obvious our bank is supporting the smallest of small businesses within our footprint.”

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About Becky Gillette