Bank OZK on how St. Pete small businesses can navigate this pandemic

It’s no secret that these are tough times for small businesses across the country. Here in the Sunshine City, a groundswell of support through Virtual Tip Jar initiatives, mass takeout campaigns, and the launch of the Fighting Chance Fund have converged to aid and stimulate our local economy. We at I Love the Burg thought it apropos to seek the advice of those in the financial sector who might know other avenues available for small businesses and individuals looking to navigate through these difficult waters.

Bank OZK currently operates ~250 locations in 10 states across the U.S., with nearly 15 branches in the Tampa Bay region. They’re here to help community members navigate COVID-19 loan relief options so small businesses can stay up during this pandemic, and thrive long after it’s over.

Currently, Bank OZK (along with other banks in Tampa Bay) is providing federally backed forgivable loans to eligible business customers through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Bank OZK is a Preferred Small Business Administration (SBA) lender. With over 30 years of experience in the SBA program, the bank offers unparalleled support for their small business clients in determining eligibility and in making the SBA loan process easy to navigate.

“SBA’s best lenders, like Bank OZK, earn the designation as a Preferred Lender based on our expertise, and proven track record of successfully processing and servicing SBA guaranteed loans,” said Barclay Harless, St. Petersburg Market Leader for Bank OZK. “Our local loan officers are able to act quickly and confidently in what otherwise might be a confusing process. This is what we do and have been doing for decades.”

With the help of OZK Labs, located in St. Pete, Bank OZK custom built a robust application portal for the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan program that originated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is a nearly $350-billion program intended to provide American small businesses with eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans. The loans are backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Because of the significant interest in these loans, hundreds of our bankers are working day and night, 7 days a week to review, approve and fund these applications on an expedited basis,” said Harless. “We’re tracking the impact of these loans on jobs created and jobs saved and look forward to sharing that information with our communities.”

Countless St. Pete-based businesses have pivoted operations to suit the current circumstances. From opening ghost kitchens, to expanding delivery options, and partnering up with out restaurateurs to facilitate a more efficient, and consolidated meal program.

Others have had to cease operations for the foreseeable future. Our local barbers, nail salons, many fashion/retail boutiques, wellness spas have closed their doors. A mix of local support from residents who want to see this local business ecosystem thrive as it once did, and the help of financial institutions provide vital options for community leaders in need.

Small business owners should know they don’t have to proceed forward alone.

“We’re pleased to be putting our experience and skill with the SBA loan program to work to help them weather this event and come out even stronger.”

For further details, visit Bank OZK’s website. There you can begin applying for the SBA Loan Program, or link up with a representative to answer any significant questions you may have about the Paycheck Protection Program.

Click HERE for a full list of Bank OZK branches in St. Petersburg.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.