(WRIC) — The Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline for some small businesses to stay afloat during COVID-19.

With billions of dollars in funding still available, experts say it’s not too late to apply for the second round of loans.

“A lot of people believed the second round would be gone in 48-72 hours and that’s not the case,” said Bruce Whitehurst, President and CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association.

Whitehurst says since the first round of federal funding was released on April 3, Virginia’s businesses have received a big chunk of cash. “In Virginia, PPP loans have reached 86,739 small businesses for nearly $13 billion dollars in loan amount,” Whitehurst explained.

As of Wednesday, however, Whitehurst tells 8News $124.5 billion dollars remained in the fund. He’s hoping more Virginians will take advantage of this financial opportunity.

Bruce Whitehurst, President and CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association

“I’m hearing stories about people who feel like this may be what makes the difference in their ability as a small business owner to remain in business,” he said.

Yes, the PPP has had its struggles.

Small businesses in Richmond tell 8News they were denied the first time around when funding ran out in less than two weeks. But this banking expert says everybody involved in the application process is getting smarter to help business owners.

“Banks have learned very quickly how to make this more and more efficient and are able, better, every day to help small business owners prepare and submit their applications,” Whitehurst said.

Just since April 27, when round two opened up for funding, the Small Business Administration says Virginia businesses have been approved for $3.9 billion dollars in loans and counting.

On average, the SBA reports an average loan of $79,000 for round two recipients.
Whitehurst believes that’s a positive sign

“We know that we’re reaching smaller and smaller businesses and that is a very good thing to see.”