Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The second round of Payroll Protection Program loans for small businesses got under way Monday — and disparities between the haves and the have-nots are becoming more stark.

What's going on: Small businesses in the Midwest, notably Nebraska, got a big share of the loans. But states like New York and California — hit hard by the coronavirus economic shut down — came up comparably short.

Where it stands: Qualifying firms in states like New York and New Jersey are less likely to have longstanding relationships with community banks — a factor that seems to have made a big difference in who got a share of the initial $350 billion pot of federal money.

  • Just 15% of companies based in "the most affected congressional districts" got funds from the PPP program, new findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research show, while "more than 30% of all businesses operating in the least affected congressional districts were able to tap into PPP funding."
  • Now that $310 billion more is being doled out, there are fears that the same dynamic will be at work — including early glitches — leaving firms without relief.

Between the lines: Big states like Texas, New York and California received the largest overall dollar amounts from the program. But "examining the percentage of small businesses receiving loans in a state paints a very different picture," as TIME points out.

  • In Nebraska, 10.7% of small businesses received loans, second only to North Dakota, per TIME's analysis.
  • In New York, the figure was 1.9%, "third-to-last ahead of California and Nevada."

The number of PPP loans approved in Nebraska cover 81% of the state’s eligible payrolls, according to Bloomberg, which cites data from Evercore.

  • The figure was around 70% in Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • Compare that to New York and California, where the number of approved small business loans cover just about 40% of each state’s eligible payrolls.

By the numbers: Community banks — which play an outsized role in more rural states — were thoroughly prepared and more familiar with the SBA's back-end systems, while the big banks were slower to open portals for businesses.

  • Montana community bankers “were literally sitting up all night waiting for those [SBA] portals to open and were submitting loans within minutes,” Brent Donnelly, who heads up Montana’s SBA office, tells Axios.
  • At one point, Montana-based Stockman Bank was leading the nation in terms of loans disbursed, CEO Bill Coffee tells Axios. So was Nebraska-based Union Bank & Trust, per the Washington Post.
  • Local bankers have a “very vested interest in making sure those businesses in the town survive,” says Richard Baier, head of the Nebraska Bankers Association.

Of note: The biggest four banks typically account for 36% of all loans to small businesses — but they distributed less than 3% of all PPP loans, per the NBER paper.

The backstory: When bigger banks opened up their small business loan portals, they faced complaints from small business customers who said their applications were in limbo.

  • Others couldn’t submit applications at all because the banks prioritized customers who had previously borrowed money from them.
  • According to the New York Times, some of the nation's biggest banks prioritized bigger, wealthier clients — like the Potbelly sandwich shop chain, which has since announced it would return its PPP loan.

The intrigue: Some small businesses are ditching their banks over PPP loans — or looking elsewhere.

  • Scott Roy, who runs a small consulting agency in Knoxville, Tenn., dropped his relationship with TIAA because it wasn’t participating in the program and moved his business to Mountain Commerce Bank. He submitted a PPP application through the smaller bank and was approved days later.
  • "You know a decision you made years ago about who to bank with is now coming back to bite you in the butt," Roy tells Axios.
  • Ricky Singh, a California-based small business owner, says his banking relationships with Wells Fargo and Chase didn't land him luck in getting a loan.
  • Rather, he was approved for a PPP loan through Intuit's QuickBooks.

What to watch: Public outrage has prompted several powerful firms and public companies — as well as the Los Angeles Lakers — to return the money they got under the program, and the government set up guardrails for who should and shouldn't apply.

  • But it's still unclear if money will flow more evenly to places that need it the most.

Note: Axios qualified for a loan under this program. More details here.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 5, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why the employee retention credit is an overlooked stimulus issue

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.

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N.Y., N.J. and Conn. to require travelers from 31 states to quarantine

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Travelers from 31 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are now required to quarantine for 14 days when traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

What's new: Hawaii, South Dakota and the Virgin Islands were added to the travel advisory list on Tuesday, while Alaska, Ohio, New Mexico and Rhode Island were removed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

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Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China