Stockman Bank in Missoula has been working day and night the past few weeks to obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans for existing customers, as well as other Montana businesses who needed assistance. Market President Bob Burns explains.

“Here in Missoula, we have closed and booked about 190 loans for a total of $25 million to help Missoula businesses,” Burns said. “Statewide, we received SBA approval of 1,900 loans for a total of $244 million across the state of Montana. It was really important for us to work as quickly as we could before the initial allocation of money ran out. Sure enough, those funds were exhausted this morning.”

Burns says they are still accepting applications and he believes congress will allocate more funding down the road, but it is unclear when that will actually happen. Burns said a lot of the sole proprietors and small business owners applied later than some of the larger companies around the state.

“We are encouraging people to visit the SBA website because there is a lot of really good information there and to talk to your accountant,” Burns said. “Have some dialog with your bank as well. Ask questions of your lender and start that process because we want to continue to accept applications so that we are prepared when congress allocates additional money.”

Burns says these loans were designed for business owners to retain their employees, but many businesses had already let employees go before this loan was made available and now many former employees are on unemployment. As of now, businesses have eight weeks to use this money and they need to spend at least 75% on payroll.

“If they are not able to bring their employees back, they are clearly not going to be spending that money to the level they would need to for debt forgiveness,” Burns said. “If they don’t spend that money, it will be sitting here in the bank. Theoretically, they would turn around and apply that same amount to the loan so that, ultimately, the whole loan is forgiven.”

These loans are at 1% interest from the time the loan is booked until the debt is forgiven. Burns said the goal is that 100% of these loans are forgiven. Burns said his staff has been working around the clock.

“There are nights we have been here until midnight and mornings where we have been here at four in the morning,” Burns said. “I can’t say enough about or staff here, they have all stepped up. We know our customers so well and we care about them. When you line them all up, it is impossible to prioritize your clients. People also have to keep in mind that we are in a social distancing scenario. Essentially, we have had to take this on in an environment that has a good majority of our staff working at home.”

Stockman Bank has been serving clients since 1953 and Burns said that is not going to change anytime soon.