A Jackson businessman who applied for an economic assistance loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration said the website SBA.gov/disaster worked well.
“It’s definitely a big process,” said Jason Williams, owner of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. “It’s really akin to a traditional bank loan ... or if you’ve bought a home. It’s basically that same level of due diligence.”
Williams completed his application Sunday, and it appears that getting the job done early was a good idea. By late Monday, the SBA was warning that high volumes of traffic were slowing the site. And on Wednesday the site was unavailable for most of the day, giving users a message that it was down for maintenance.
The SBA said nonpeak hours are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It also said some users are having problems using Chrome, and it suggested using a different browser.
Businesses can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest economic assistance loans through the SBA to help them cope with disruption due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The loans can be used for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses, 2.75% for nonprofits.
“The loan amount will be based on actual economic injury and financial needs,” Gov. Mark Gordon’s office said in a release, “so small-business owners are encouraged to gather items such as financial statements, tax returns and revenue projections to prepare for a loan request.”
Williams confirmed that.
“It’s definitely not like getting a credit card,” he said. “Having a printer and scanner handy will really accelerate that process.”
Williams, who is also a wildlife photographer, plans to apply next for a loan for Gallery Wild, which he owns with his wife, wildlife artist Carrie Wild.
His goal is to cover payroll, rent and basic operating expenses for 12 months, although that is in preparation for a worst-case scenario in which he would have to refund all deposits on tours through September. He’s optimistic that won’t happen. And, he said, he and Wild are conservative.
“I’ve frozen my salary and my wife, Carrie, has frozen hers at the gallery out of an abundance of caution to make sure we have capital to keep employees on and benefits going,” he said, “so we don’t to have to lay anybody off except our seasonal guides.”
If the wildlife tour business has no sales through early fall and has to refund everybody, business won’t pick up again until December, which isn’t a big season. That’s why Williams is looking a full year out.
“If we go beyond that, we’ll have bigger problems than running safaris, that’s for sure,” Williams said.
Now he wonders when the money will come.
“The site itself worked great,” Williams said. “The question will be what’s the time frame for their underwriters to actually get you the loan. “