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Paycheck Protection Program offers lifeline, but little guidance

The program is designed to allow small businesses to maintain their payroll.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA is looking forward to welcoming back all 150 of its employees next month, and it can do so thanks to a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program.

"If we were to lose those people when we're ready to open up again, it's not that easy to just rehire them all and get them all back in the pipeline again. This has given us the opportunity to plan and do all the background work so that when we finally do get that green light to open the doors back up, we'll be ready to hit the ground running," said Jim Thomas, Executive Director of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA.

As of right now, once you get the federal money, you have eight weeks to spend it. 

Seventy-five percent of the funds need to go toward hiring back or continuing to pay your employees, in order for the loan to be forgiven.

The Wall Street Journal reports that changes to the program are likely on the way that would give business owners more time to spend the money and more flexibility in how they spend it.

"There's many rumors that eight weeks may get extended out, but at this point, the SBA has not given final guidance," said Angelo DeCesaris, Vice President of Fidelity Bank.

DeCesaris says that for many business owners, there have been more questions than answers when it comes to the PPP.

"There's so much left for interpretation right now. It's very difficult as a trusted advisor to our clients to be able to give advice because we don't have the facts to be able to give that advice," said DeCesaris.

But for the most part, DeCesaris says the program has done what it was designed to do to offer a lifeline to small businesses. 

"I had one business owner that was in tears. That if it wasn't for the PPP loan, they may have had to close their doors, and now they're able to keep their doors open and pay their employees," said DeCesaris.

Fidelity Bank says there's still about 100-billion-dollars available for small businesses. 

The bank says it went from seeing a couple of hundred applications a day to just a couple a day.

You can apply on the SBA's website.