Philadelphia region coming together to help some businesses stay afloat

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thousands of small business owners across the U.S. are in the lurch as the federally-backed Paycheck Protection Program officially ran out of money Thursday morning. The Small Business Administration said it is now currently unable to accept new applications or enroll new lenders.

This comes amid a political standoff in Washington. The good news is our region's city and state officials are coming together to help at least some local businesses stay afloat.

Many local lenders are making good on their promise to provide financial relief to Philadelphians by putting a pause on their loan payments and they are also coming up with some pretty creative ways to help.
"Never laid anybody, I get emotional sorry, never laid anybody off my entire life," said Keth Baldwin, owner of Spike's Trophies.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the owner of Spike's Trophies had to lay off nearly his entire workforce of 50-plus people even though under the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program, Baldwin did receive help, including loan deferments from Firstrust Bank.

"With the economic disruption going on and the uncertainty, we've been giving that, you know, either 1-2-3 months depending on the situation," said Richard Green, CEO, Firstrust Bank.

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But then Firstrust did something else entirely. One of its other clients, AnswerNet, had just been awarded the contract for the State of New York.

"To do calls to book appointments for the coronavirus tests for the State of New York, they needed to fill seats like this," explained Baldwin.

Firstrust called Spike's Trophies and just two hours after laying off his staff, Baldwin was able to rehire all of them as call center bookers for AnswerNet.
"I can't thank them enough, I told you it's emotional," said Baldwin.

It is exactly this kind of domino effect Philadelphia City Councilman Allan Domb has been hoping for in pushing banks to provide temporary financial relief.

"And so this is just some great assistance to get us through this period of time. We might need more than three or six months, but for now, that's our goal," Domb said.

And another bank has joined the Pennsylvania CARE package. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday that Bank of America has agreed to join the state's relief initiative, designed to help all consumers, including small business owners.

"We need to stand with those small businesses, they're the backbone of our economy," Shapiro explained. "And this is one more tool available to help them. It's a 90-day reprieve from making a car or mortgage or loan payment. It's 90 days of not having to worry about those annoying fees like late fees and insufficient fund fees and things like that."

More than 10 banks are participating in P.A. CARE.
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