STEUBENVILLE – Businesses and other organizations have received just over $ 97 million in loans in Jefferson, Brooke and Hancock counties under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Established earlier this year, the $ 669 billion business loan program was created to help some businesses, freelancers, sole proprietors, and nonprofits continue to pay their workers who have been affected by the pandemic. of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Small Business Administration released information on PPP loans for all loans issued, and in the region’s three counties surveyed, 855 entities took advantage of the program.
The largest amounts went to several of the region’s largest companies. In Jefferson County, the Franciscan University of Steubenville has received more than $ 6.5 million in loans. In Hancock County, Homer Laughlin China Co. has obtained more than $ 4.8 million in loans, and in Brooke County, Weirton Medical Center Physician Practices has received more than $ 3.4 million in loans. The smallest loan in the region was $ 265.
The program has enabled entities to apply for these low-interest private loans to cover labor costs, rent, interest, and utilities. Loans can be partially or fully canceled if the company keeps the number of employees and salaries stable.
Local leaders say the economic influx has enabled many local businesses to survive.
Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the program is “Absolutely” valuable.
“So many companies have been negatively affected”, said Gentil. “It’s a big blow to them, it will help some of them cover the legitimate costs.”
Marvin Six, executive director of Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, said it was aware of medical practices that used PPP loans to retain staff when fewer people were making in-person appointments and to purchase additional equipment to comply with regulations designed to deter the spread of the disease. coronavirus.
The Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission helped local small business owners apply for state grants funded by the federal CARES Act and aimed to help them recover from losses related to the pandemic.
When asked if the paycheck protection program benefits local businesses, BHJ executive director Mike Paprocki said: “It certainly helped keep some afloat.”
Paprocki said he was aware of businesses and nonprofits that were shut down because they were deemed non-essential to retain employees.
He said that instead of asking for unemployment compensation, employees were paid a salary on condition that they returned to work when their employer reopened.
Along with Franciscan University, Homer Laughlin China, and Weirton Medical Center, local businesses that received more than $ 2 million in loans included Grae-Con ($ 4.3 million of which more than $ 2.5 million for Grae -Con Process Piping and $ 1.7 million for Grae-Con Construction) and CHANGE Inc. ($ 2.07 million).
Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Graham said he “all for any help we can give to local businesses in times of crisis.”
“This virus has shown that it is not a hoax”, Graham said, noting that local businesses are the lifeblood of the region’s economy and in turn impact local governments.
As an example, Graham said that sales tax revenue “It was a little depressed for us, but it could have been a lot worse.”
“Some companies are doing well, others have been more negatively affected”, Graham added.
“Anything the government can do to help, it must do” Graham said. “If the government can’t help at times like this, it’s hard to imagine why it exists. When citizens are hurting, that is when the government has to step in and do something. “
When asked if another round of loans should be available, Paprocki said: “Do we need another iteration of this? Of course, because it’s not going to go away for four to five months.
He noted that the airline and hotel industries have suffered from a sharp drop in travel while restaurants have still not been able to serve at full capacity.
“I think we will feel the economic impact of this for years to come”, he said.
Paprocki said that closing schools also has an economic impact, as parents of young children have sometimes been forced to stay at home when no one else is available to watch them.
He noted that there aren’t some people who haven’t been able to work from home.
Paprocki said such situations have highlighted the need for additional child care.
Six said he believed such programs helped alleviate some financial anxieties caused by the pandemic.
“I think it is necessary to make people more comfortable, but I think there must be more guidelines” he said.
However, Six said one downside is that employees do not return home from work after their wages have been covered by the funds.
“Small businesses need to have people who work. If there is a tampon that will allow people not to work, some will take the tampon ”, he said.
Jefferson County Commissioner Dave Maple said he believed the P3 program “In general, has been a real lifeline for many businesses affected by COVID. “ He said securing funding was essential, “Now people are starting to invest in the forgiveness part.”
“What worries me the most are small businesses that don’t have a management team of five or six people.” with the time and resources to fully investigate opportunities such as PPP and seek help, Maple said.