Businesses and nonprofits across the country have been hit hard by COVID-19, as shutdowns cost them customers while they’re still faced with the expenses of just keeping the lights on.
That’s where the Paycheck Protection Program — a federally backed effort to treat the financial wound of the virus through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — comes in. In McCracken County alone, the loan program has helped 1,066 businesses, that account for more than 14,000 jobs, cover payroll and other approved expenses.
“I know that (this program) allowed a lot of our businesses just to survive during this time,” said Sandra Wilson, president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s been a challenge and they’ve all been very creative in what they’ve done to continue to serve their customers, but the PPP loans were like a lifeline for them.”
Data from the Small Business Administration — the government agency responsible for distributing the taxpayer funds — was broken down into two categories: loans of under and over $150,000. The smaller loan category accounted for more than $35.2 million given to 902 local businesses.
The loans that exceeded $150,000 did not have exact figures released, instead listing a range of possible funding with some businesses getting as much as $10 million and others as low as $150,000. The minimum total for these 164 loans is just shy of $60 million.
While a precise total couldn’t be calculated at this time, the numbers suggest that more than $95 million in federal funds have been poured into local businesses since applications became available in April. For context, SBA data shows that businesses in Kentucky received 48,354 loans for a net total of more than $5.2 billion.
Tom Clayton, a senior vice president with Paducah Bank, spoke with the Sun Monday about his bank’s “significant role” in aiding local businesses gain access to this funding. He said that just Paducah Bank helped more than 600 PPP loans become reality, accounting for somewhere around $63 million — 95% of which was local to McCracken County.
“I think for some businesses this was the difference between being able to survive and not,” Clayton said. “A lot of these businesses were shut down by government mandate to control social distancing so they had zero revenue coming in and yet they still had expenses, like rent and utilities and other things that kept going on.
“Without it, I think we would have seen a lot more businesses having announced that they would close than we did.”
According to a U.S. Small Business Administration database, as of Monday, there were 6,437 loans to Kentucky employers. The loans can be forgiven if businesses mostly use the money to continue paying workers.
The program initially was set to expire June 30 but was extended to Aug. 8, with $132 billion still available.
Wilson praised the local banks, as well as Kentucky’s congressional representatives, for their help in securing these invaluable funds. She was just happy the chamber could play connector and help so many area businesses stay afloat.
“A lot of our businesses did get that assistance, and we’re just very thankful that they were able to do that,” she said. “Our job, we felt like, was to get the information to (the businesses) and encourage them to reach out to the SBA, to their banks, to their CPAs, whoever they needed to talk to get that assistance.
“I’m just glad they were able to get it.”
By: Derek Operle