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The Treasury Department’s $349 billion attempt to keep the U.S. economy afloat during the coronavirus crisis with a robust loan program to small businesses got underway Friday, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told FOX Business host Lou Dobbs the program is off to a strong start.
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“The first banks made the loans at 8:30 this morning,” Mnuchin said, “We had over 800 banks participate today, mostly community banks. So we couldn't be more excited.”
A senior Treasury official told FOX Business correspondent Ed Lawrence after Mnuchin’s appearance on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that 17,500 loans worth $5.4 billion were awarded by close of business, with 1,100 banks participating.
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Naturally, there were some glitches reported. Bank of America branches told some applying for the loans that they were accepting applications only from customers who had existing financial relations.
JPMorgan Chase sent notices Thursday night warning potential applicants that the bank was still waiting for guidance from the Small Business Association on how to proceed and might not be able to process loans on Friday.
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“My understanding is that they did take applications,” said Mnuchin, “so they were able to service their customers.” He added that it was his “expectation” that starting next week all the major banks will be up to speed and ready to continue processing the SBA loans.
While the program may have gotten off to a solid start, Mnuchin said the work of the government with small businesses is not done and he is working closely with the Federal Reserve. “We're in the process of designing programs with (the Fed) very quickly," he said. "We're very focused on a Main Street lending program for those businesses that are above the SBA program and below the corporate program. We want to make sure that Main Street companies have access."