Travis Barkve, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Choice Bank, breaks down the latest stimulus package, and what business owners need to know (5:33). WCCO 4 News At 10 – March 14, 2021

Video Transcript

In the latest stimulus bill, billions of dollars have been set aside for small businesses, and the goal is to keep them afloat as the pandemic continues.

Tonight I spoke with Travis Barkve. He is the executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Choice Bank. He broke down the bill and what business owners need to know.

Travis, thank you again for joining us. I’ll just jump in with our first question.

How have small businesses been affected by Covid-19?

TRAVIS BARKVE: Thanks for having me, Jeff. Our small business owners have reported a significant drop in business since the pandemic began. Our small business owners have really been challenged to understand their business model, how it’s evolved, as well as how they’ll serve customers in unique ways throughout the last year– all, really, while trying to keep their employees and their customers safe.

So what do small business owners need out of this new piece of COVID-19 legislation?

TRAVIS BARKVE: The third piece of stimulus really has dedicated about $59 billion for these small businesses. Some of the programs specifically identified include the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which is a long-term, low-interest loans from the SBA– Small Business Administration. Additional funds were also dedicated to small businesses, especially those impacted significantly, such as bars and restaurants. Those eligible restaurants and bars are limited in locations as well as they can’t be publicly traded.

There are also some additional funds allocated to PPP and increasing its availability for some additional non-profits. And if you’re not– if you are a small business owner and haven’t applied for a PPP loan before, you may be still eligible. And businesses with less than 500 employees can apply for First Draw Loans, and then businesses with less than 300 workers can apply for Second Draw Loans.

A bar or restaurant, for example, can they apply for a PPP loan, as well as that new grant program, to really get some assistance?

TRAVIS BARKVE: They are allowed to apply for both. There’s some specific pieces that they will need to go through, but there is availability that they can do both.

Now, of course, all of this is meant to help. But I understand that some small businesses maybe have some concerns about what’s going into this legislation. What would that be?

TRAVIS BARKVE: Currently, the legislation does not extend the deadline for small businesses to apply for PPP loans. That’s scheduled to close on March 31. Last week, there was legislation that was introduced by the House to extend the program deadline to May 31 and it would also provide the SBA with some additional flexibility for those remaining application– to process those remaining applications.

The second area of concern is the availability of funds within the program. The first round of funding was allocated very quickly. However, the next rounds of funds have allowed for a much broader scope of small businesses to qualify for PPP. And there are still plenty of funds available for small businesses, so I would encourage them to work with their banker to complete that application process.

I imagine it’s going to be a feverish next two weeks or so, so how is your bank preparing for another round of PPP loan applicants?

TRAVIS BARKVE: Yeah, our team at Choice Bank is prepared for the additional PPP loan funding. We have the framework built to process the volume of applications, receive the SBA approval, and then complete the business funding quickly and efficiently. Choice Bank does assist both its current customers as well as potential future customers. Since the CARES Act was passed last March, Choice Bank processed more than 3,400 PPP loans for small businesses, helping to save almost 55,000 jobs throughout both Minnesota and North Dakota.

To kind of go with that, just what reassurance do you want to offer some of these business owners? I imagine when all this stuff comes down the line it can be a lot to process, and at the same time, balancing the emotions of making sure they don’t lose their business. So working with someone who understands all of the minutiae of this. What would you want to say to some of these business owners that maybe just feel a little bit overwhelmed?

TRAVIS BARKVE: I think the most important thing is to reach out. Because we are here as that partner, and we are here to help you navigate through the process, which may feel overwhelming or just understanding what you have in front of you to help really navigate what is the best solution for you and how can we help your small business survive during this uncertain time. We’ve been with you during the good times, and we’re also here during these uncertain times, and we’re here as that trusted “People First” partner.

Millions receive their COVID relief check this weekend. To find out when you can expect to get your payment, go to and click on Get My Payment. Individuals who earn $80,000 or more a year do not qualify for a payment, and married couples earning $160,000 or more do not qualify as well.

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