First group of small businesses receive SBA loans, getting employees back to work


JAMESVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After many unknowns about its rollout, financial relief is now on the way to small business owners who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security Act passed last month, set aside $349 billion for the U.S. Small Business Administration of SBA.

In addition to traditional SBA funding, the legislation created several new temporary programs to help small businesses that have been forced to close and those deemed essential.

Holbrook Heating Inc. is the latter, but despite being allowed to stay open, CEO RJ Holbrook things have not been the same.

“Before all this happened we had right around 250 employees. We, unfortunately, had 60 either take voluntary layoffs because they had kids they needed to take care of or you know workload for us slowed down very rapidly,” Holbrook said.

On April 4 he started an application for a low-interest loan under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.

  • Paycheck Protection Program – a loan program that provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program
  • EIDL Loan Advance – a loan advance that provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans – enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly
  • SBA Debt Relief – provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Holbrook’s initial expectations were realistic. Given the quick roll-out and limited information, he worked with his CPA and KeyBank to make sure he was overprepared.

“There is no way anyone can expect the SBA to handle this, I mean that’s just common sense they’re just not set up to handle anything like this,” said Holbrook.

He may have been one of the first to access the application on April 4 but when it came time to submit…

“By the time I got to the end of it more people were getting on the portal and it was starting to crash. I had 6 tabs open hitting submit. On the 30th time, it finally went through and I got an email notification,” he said.

Holbrook’s application was approved two days later on April 6 and his loan arrived on April 11.

He spent Easter Sunday making plans to bring some employees back to work right away but says all 60 should be returning in the next two to three weeks.

“It’s definitely a big win for my business and many others and it’s out there it’s going to come I’m not the only one, everyone is going to get it [funding]. It’s just a matter of time and making sure you have everything figured out and you follow the guidelines and it will come,” said Holbrook.

Now his only hope is that other small business owners that see his experience, decide to apply and get the same result.

For more information on how to apply for a small business loan during the COVID-19 pandemic head to

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For more local news, follow Rob Hackford on Twitter @Robert_Hackford.

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