Long Island African American Business Group Partners with Customers Bank to process Stimulus Loans

Phil Andrews

Phil Andrews. Photo: Phil Andrews.

Many small business owners and members of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. were underserved during the first rounds of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans due to inequities and delays in getting to details to the African American community. On the other hand, many large companies had advantages by working with well-staffed accounting departments to deal with the issues and process of applying for PPP loans.

Prior to the pandemic, the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. had already launched its Retool, Refocus, and Rebuild Black Business Campaign. Later, a staggering number of businesses in the local community that were sole proprietorships and were told they could not apply for the PPP loans. After some research, the Chamber learned sole proprietors who report income and pay taxes on a Schedule C in their personal tax return, as well as independent contractors who collect 1099-MISC forms were able to participate in the PPP program if they submit a Schedule C, instead of 1099s.

To help more of its members and entrepreneurs in the community, the Chamber partnered with Customers Bank to take advantage of the bank’s PPP white-label solution that enabled chambers of commerce, credit unions, community development financial institutions, minority deposit institutions, micro-finance institutions, and other lenders to provide a seamless platform that enabled members of these organization to access an online PPP application, funding and servicing lifeline.

“The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. realized that to help a larger number of small businesses in the community access the federal stimulus they need to keep employees on the payroll or protect their sole source of income, the chamber needed a trusted partner that could provide an elegant PPP process,” said Phil Andrews, president of the chamber. “We needed a reputable bank that would enhance our ability to provide essential services to our members and our wider network of African American small business owners.”

Customers Bank established a national reputation by being a top 5 ranked PPP lender by participating in more than 100,000 SBA-approved PPP loans that had an aggregate value of over $5 billion. The bank was also nationally recognized as having the second-lowest average loan size of the nation’s major PPP lenders.

“We essentially put together a white-label program where Customers Bank will handle end-to-end PPP processing, funding and servicing, including forgiveness. There’s no technology integration and no fee for participating organizations,” said Sam Sidhu, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Customers Bank. “This was a very deliberate decision to assist more small business owners with accessing the federal stimulus available to them by supporting the lending activities of other organizations.”

As a result of the partnership with Customers Bank, the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce was able to assist numerous entrepreneurs that were underserved in the first rounds of the PPP loans. ButterMEssentials, based in Brooklyn, New York (www.buttermessentials.com) and Absolute Trophy, based in Bayside, New York (www.absolutelytrophies.com), are two examples of recent entrepreneurs that were able to secure PPP loans by working with the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce.

“We are proud to help support important community and economic development organizations in many of the underserved communities across the nation, such as the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce,” said Miguel Alban, senior vice president and director of multicultural banking for Customers Bank. “Together, we are making sure that underrepresented minority and women-owned small businesses have access to the federal stimulus to help sustain their livelihoods and that of their employees during the economic recovery.

The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce was named as the New York District Office of the United States Small Business Administration 2019 Small Business Champion for 14 counties in downstate New York which services New York City, Long Island and the downstate counties of Duchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.

“We know our road to recovery as a business community would be much more difficult without establishing partnerships such as the one we have embarked upon with Customers Bank,” added Andrews. “Together, we are looking forward to helping many more small businesses than either organization could achieve on their own.”

To learn more about the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, visit www.liaacc.org. Click here to Apply for the Payroll Protection Program

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