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The federal government’s disaster loan fund for small employers has drawn far less scrutiny than the infamously deficient Paycheck Protection Program, but it may be just as dysfunctional.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, recently expanded to cover businesses affected by the coronavirus, offers qualified firms emergency cash advances of up to $10,000 on low-interest loans worth up to $2 million that are repayable over 30 years. 

It sounds promising, but small business owners who have applied for the loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration describe the process as confusing and complain that the money is slow to materialize.  

“We put in our EIDL application right away. First we were told it was for $10,000. About a month later, on April 23, we found money in our account, but it wasn’t anything close to what we thought we were getting,” said K.B. Brown, owner of Wolfpack Promotionals, a print shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Weeks after he applied, Brown said he received a $3,000 advance on the loan, which isn’t enough to cover even one month of business expenses. He doesn’t know if he’ll be approved for a larger disaster loan, noting that he hasn’t received any follow-up information from the SBA. 

“Right now, we need at least $25,000 on the low end to get caught up, make sure our vendors are paid, and bring people back,” Brown said. 

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