The coronavirus pandemic brought with it an economic downturn seldom seen in American history, putting businesses nationwide in dire financial straits. In reaction to that, part of the federal government’s response was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan initiative that sent money to approved businesses to help them sustain payroll payments and subsidize operating costs.
Earlier this month, the Small Business Administration released data on all the loans they distributed as part of the PPP, giving a glimpse into how much money flowed into local businesses, large and small, in Tompkins County. The loan data is divided into two subsets, Class I and Class II: Class I loans are anything more than $150,000, and Class II are anything less. But different information is released about the recipient companies according to which class of loan they were approved for: Class I companies are named, but there are only ranges of dollar amounts listed, while Class II companies are not named, only categorized by industry, but the exact amount of each loan is shown. Not every company will accept or execute the loan, but inclusion here means they were approved for it.
A review of the data shows that the loan program is projected to help retain 13,764 jobs in Tompkins County, though the long-term impacts of the PPP are obviously yet to be seen, particularly if it’s effective as a panacea for businesses to keep employees on the payroll. Class I loans were given to 180 businesses throughout the county, 26 of which were non-profit organizations. While some demographic information was asked in order to show the race, gender and military status of the company’s owners, the vast majority of companies chose not to fill it out.
It appears the business that was approved to receive the most money from the government in Tompkins County was Maguire Auto Group, which is listed as receiving between $5-10 million, which is projected to help them retain 405 jobs. In Ithaca, Grammatech and Transonic Systems both received $2-5 million, retaining 96 and 99 jobs respectively. Ithaca companies that received between $1-2 million: Advantage Sport & Fitness (83 jobs retained), Cayuga Ridge Nursing Facility (121), Collegetown Bagels (275), Franziska Rackers Center (230), GreenStar Cooperative Market (237), Rheonix (59), Therm (151) and TCAT (141). These loans, the 11 largest in Ithaca, are projected to help retain 1,897 jobs.
“If we did not receive $ 1.5 million in PPP we would have had to make decisions as to how we were going to reduce our costs, and we most likely would’ve been forced to look seriously at jobs and services,” TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool wrote in an email. “Finding good employees and getting customers to come back after cutting transit service is not a situation we want to be in. Especially when we are already facing a battle to get customers back due to the pandemic.”
An additional 141 Ithaca businesses received Class I loans between $150,000 and $1 million, allowing those companies to retain 4,719 jobs, according to the report. Class I loans are projected to retain 7,940 jobs throughout Tompkins County when businesses from municipalities outside of Ithaca are factored in: 1,324 jobs are being retained in non-Ithaca businesses. Other loans above $1 million in the county were the William George Agency for Children’s Services (423 jobs) and John C. Lowery, a construction firm (89 jobs), both located in Freeville.
As for Class II loans (or those under $150,000), 1,176 businesses in Tompkins County were approved to receive money, amounting to nearly $43.1 million; 85 (or seven percent) of the companies were listed as non-profit organizations. Of the businesses, 855 are based in Ithaca, and those companies made up $32.9 million of the total amount received in the county, retaining 4,403 Ithaca jobs. Overall, Class II loans helped businesses retain 1,421 jobs in businesses outside of Ithaca, and 5,824 total throughout the county including Ithaca. Which businesses received loans is unclear, but in Ithaca the average loan can be estimated at $38,523. Elsewhere, 46 Dryden businesses received assistance, 70 in Trumansburg, 17 in Brooktondale, 26 in Newfield, four in Slaterville, 45 in Lansing, 68 in Groton and one in Jacksonville.
“The bigger loans were bigger companies that had more jobs at stake, and therefore were able to retain more jobs,” Tompkins County Area Development President Heather McDaniel said. TCAD has conducted its own analysis on the PPP so far, finding largely beneficial results for local companies. Noting that the program was designed to help small businesses first, McDaniel clarified that the SBA considers any business under 500 employees to be a “small business,” which would encompass every business that received a loan in the county.
An important point to note is that approval for the loan does not mean it was actually executed; that data will likely be available later on through the US Treasury. There is also certain to be a second wave of businesses applying for and receiving PPP loans in the coming weeks as the pandemic continues and the federal government prepares another wave of assistance for citizens, including expanded PPP loans, stimulus checks and possibly aid for state and local governments. The first segment of the PPP, in McDaniel’s eyes, has proved valuable insofar as allowing companies to at least stay afloat for now.
“Looking through it, I see a lot of businesses that are really critical to our economy here,” McDaniel said. “There’s a lot of not-for-profits there too [...] I was surprised, I thought it would be all for-profit businesses, but it was a lot of not-for-profits. I think on every level, I’ve heard from a number of businesses that this was actually critical for them. It allowed them some time to figure out how to pivot and still operate in this marketplace, in a really changed environment.”
Below are two searchable spreadsheets. The first is for Class I loans, which are above $150K, and name the recipient companies while only providing a range of the loan amount. The second is Class II loans, which are below $150K, and for which exact loan amounts are provided but not the company's name.
Class I. Scroll to the right to see projected jobs retained, municipality of the businesses, type of business, etc.