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Eastern Bank CEO On PPP: ‘Round 1 Was Awful. Round 2 Was Atrocious’

Says Small Business Will Suffer From SBA Program

Keith Griffin

April 28, 2020

Bob Rivers, Eastern Bank CEO | Banking New England file photo

Eastern Bank CEO and Chairman Bob Rivers didn’t mince words when it came to describing the round two launch of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. He fears smaller businesses are going to suffer.

In a Boston Business Journal interview, Rivers said, “Round 1 was awful. Round 2 was atrocious,” Rivers said. “The system just keeps kicking the applications back. It can’t accept them.”

Rivers told the business publication that Eastern had about 3,000 applications ready to submit to the agency on Monday. By day’s end, it was only able to knock off a fraction of that, he said, though bank employees planned to keep working through the night. Rivers is concerned that this round, customers of small banks will lose out to those of bigger banks.

Meanwhile, leaders at many community banks echoed Eastern’s experience, the Boston Business Journal reported. It took the Dedham Institution for Savings four hours to successfully upload its first application, CEO Peter Brown said. Reading Cooperative Bank fared little better, processing five applications in the first three and a half hours of the PPP’s return, according to CEO Julieann Thurlow.

Read more about PPP problems in New England.

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