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Ivanka Trump highlights $1.6B coronavirus small business assistance from private sector

Big banks have faced criticism for a confusing roll out of SBA's program

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White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump on Wednesday said her outreach to big financial firms, including Bank of America and Mastercard, helped generate $1.6 billion in private-sector initiatives to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdown.

Such initiatives come as small companies are going through larger institutions like Bank of America and Wells Fargo for forgivable Small Business Administration loans to keep employees on payroll until shelter-in-place orders, intended to curb the spread of the virus, are lifted.

Both banks have committed tens of millions to help small businesses in addition to taking part in the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program and were included in a virtual White House meeting about private initiatives.

TREASURY'S MNUCHIN ASKING FOR $250B TO REPLENISH SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM

"We went back to many of the same employers as Pledge to America's Workers ... to ask what specifically can you do to help workers in this time of crisis," Trump told FOX Business, referring to a multi-year White House initiative focused on job training.

For example, Mastercard said Tuesday it's committing $250 million over five years to help small businesses (although not all the money is for the U.S. market). Mastercard is also offering cybersecurity resources to small business owners because many businesses are rapidly moving their operations online and could be at increased risk of cyberattacks.

President Trump listens as Ivanka Trump speaks during a conference call Tuesday with banks on efforts to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump also praised multimillion-dollar commitments and fee waivers from Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, as well as small business relief from the smaller Grand Rapids State Bank and Community Spirit Bank. Both banks are deferring payments for customers affected by the virus, depending upon the situation.

Meanwhile, many small businesses are using the Paycheck Protection Program as a lifeline. The SBA says it's processed 340,000 loans and partnered with more than 3,500 lenders. Grand Rapids State Bank CEO Noah Wilcox said during Tuesday's event that "about one-third of all community banks still do not have access to the system," something the SBA has pushed back on.

Trump said paycheck protection has proven to be a "remarkable" public-private partnership as the SBA has paid out $90 billion to offset the coronavirus crisis compared to its total loan volume of $28 billion in fiscal year 2019.

Jovita Carranza, administrator of the Small Business Administration, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump

"There are glitches here and there, and we're working through them as quickly as possible. ... It's a Herculean lift to have set all this up in one week," Trump said.

WHAT APPLICANTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM

"Community banks are coming online as quickly as we can process them," she said, adding that it was essential to "launch and continue to roll people into the platform in real-time."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Congress on Tuesday to approve an additional $250 billion to replenish the fund for small business loans. Some lawmakers, including the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Patrick McHenry, have said it may not be enough.

"If it’s not enough, we'll do exactly what we did this time and ask for more," Trump said. "I don’t think anyone wants it to be underfunded."

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