Tutorial business

$ 267 million in federal COVID-19 loans expected to save 39,000 local jobs

At the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, hands-on interactions were key to helping local children connect to science in the pre-COVID-19 era.

So the museum had to get creative if it wanted to be able to keep 31 full-time employees on the payroll and reopen after a mandatory closure in April.

“We were trying to make lemonade all the time,” said executive director Stephanie Bailes.

The Cade Museum is one of 3,700 businesses in Alachua County that have received a loan under the Paycheck Program. According to data released last week by the U.S. Small Business Administration, local businesses have received a total of at least $ 267 million in loans under the program.

The loans are made by various lending institutions and guaranteed by the SBA. The goal of the PPP loan is to help businesses with fewer than 500 employees affected by COVID-19 with salary costs, interest on debt, rent, utilities, and group benefits.

“Making these payments is critical to keeping small businesses open,” said Eric Godet Sr., president and CEO of the Greater Gainesville Chamber, which provided members with resources on how to submit program applications.

“We were very fortunate that many of our members received them early and were among the first to receive them in the state,” he said.

Specific loan amounts are shown in the SBA data for small businesses that received less than $ 150,000, although the businesses are not identified by name. A total of 3,318 businesses in Alachua County received between $ 1,000 and $ 116,000.

A range of values ​​is shown for businesses that received more than $ 150,000, which includes 455 businesses in Alachua County.

The Sun used the minimum amount in that range to calculate that at least $ 267 million in loans had been made in cities in Alachua County. Figures reported by the candidates suggest that they have retained nearly 39,000 employees in total.

All demographic data is voluntarily submitted by applicants, so there are potentially other recipients whose information is not reflected in the SBA dataset.

Contrary to GNVCares grants that the City of Gainesville recently began deploying, and the upcoming Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Grants, or CARES, which will be offered to businesses in Alachua County, part of PPP loans may have to be repaid.

The pardon is based on the retention or prompt rehiring of employees by the employer and the maintenance of salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time enrollment decreases or wages and salaries decrease

The loans have an interest rate of 1% and payments will be deferred for six months.

According to SBA data, a majority of businesses received their loans in April or early May. They were designed to cover salary costs for around eight to 10 weeks, as lawmakers had not predicted that the coronavirus pandemic would last through the summer months and into the fall.

Some of the recipients of PPP loans, including the Cade Museum, which received $ 189,000, are starting to see their bridge funding dry up.

“The PPP has been invaluable in enabling a semblance of normalcy in the short term,” Bailes said. “But nonprofits in particular will need donor support, in addition to finding other sources of funding at this point.”

Bailes said the loan gave the museum board and staff time to adjust to a new reality. This consisted of a ‘Cade at Home’ series that aired on the local PBS channel, videos for kids to watch on the museum’s website, and the planning of exhibits that allowed attendees to stay safe while learning and living. ‘amusing.

The Cade Museum has since reopened to the public a few weeks ago.

The Hippodrome State Theater, which received $ 210,000 to retain 45 full-time employees, is a local venue and a loan recipient that won’t reopen anytime soon.

Director of operations Nicole Daenzer said the theater had called for laying off part-time workers at the start of the pandemic because they would have actually received more money from unemployment benefits.

Daenzer said the loan funds have been useful over the past few months but, like at the Cade Museum, the money is running out.

“I feel like this PPP loan tried too hard to be one-of-a-kind and maybe it didn’t come at the right time,” she said. “We are running out of money now as things are about to get worse.”

Live performances with an audience will not take place inside the historic downtown building at least until local cases of COVID-19 are under control, but the Hippodrome is experimenting for the first time streaming shows with an upcoming virtual production, “Souvenir”.

The musical will air on Vimeo from July 21 to 26. Tickets are available for purchase in the theater website.

A total of 126 companies reported either no jobs retained or left this section blank in the SBA app.

The Sun has reached out to the companies whose names have been listed to follow up and find out how they are using the funds.

Only one of those firms responded to requests for comment, Rush Law Firm, which received between $ 150,000 and $ 350,000 and reported no jobs retained in the loan application.

Attorney Robert Rush said the loan actually helped keep 12 longtime employees on the payroll.

“Without the availability of these funds, I would have had to lay off employees who had worked with us for 10 or 15 years,” he said.

About 43% of PPP loans under $ 150,000 and 61% of loans over $ 150,000 went to businesses classified as corporations or S corporations. S corporations have less than 100 shareholders and do not pay taxes. on income.

A total of 166 nonprofits received loans, including the Strong Families Partnership, eight religious institutions, the Cade Museum, the Hippodrome State Theater, Peaceful Paths and United Way of North Central Florida.

A dozen local restaurants received at least $ 150,000, including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Ballyhoo Grill, Celebrations Catering, Five Star Pizza, Embers, Francesca’s Trattoria, MOJO Hogtown Bar-B-Que, three locations Piesanos, Mark’s Prime, Public & General, Satchel’s and Gril Woodyard.

Three local companies – Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Infotech and SIMEDHealth – have received loans between $ 5 million and $ 10 million each.

Meridian, which offers treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders, said in an emailed press release that he was able to retain 100% of his employees with the loan, although he did not provided specific amount for this.

Meridian also said it saw its service needs increase tenfold during the pandemic. Counselors and therapists hold about 400 telehealth appointments per day, the organization said.

Software company Infotech was able to keep all of its 303 full-time employees on payroll thanks to its $ 5 million loan, which is expected to cover a 24-week period, said CFO Andrew Uelsmann.

“It’s an invaluable tool that has given us a bit of a buffer during this time of uncertainty,” he said.

Since the office switched to remote work in mid-March, Infotech has been able to hire 21 additional employees and recruit 19 interns this summer.

“Without the loan security coverage, I’m not sure we could have had those kinds of numbers,” Uelsmann said.

SIMEDHealth offices in Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Lady Lake and Chiefland provide primary and urgent care, as well as specialized medical services. He received $ 6.1 million under the program to retain 474 employees, CEO Dr Daniel Duncanson said.

He said less than 10% of workers were put on leave before receiving the loan in April and are now back to work and being paid.

Some employees have had to be reassigned, Duncanson added, as elective surgeries like colonoscopies are not scheduled as often.

He said SIMEDHealth has a plan in place to ensure employees are supported until the end of the year, but it’s difficult to anticipate what the future might hold during the pandemic of COVID-19.

“It was originally thought that this problem would go away in two to three months,” Duncanson said. “Now the science and the reality are striking to us that this is going to be a much more protracted event. We feel great about 2020, but we don’t know what 2021 looks like, and there is no relief in sight. “

Alachua County Paycheck Protection Program Loans

At least $ 266,502,480 distributed to businesses

Total number of jobs declared retained: 38,674

3,318 businesses received up to $ 150,000

455 companies received more than $ 150,000

1,691 companies received loans

1,130 SARLs received loans

166 non-profit organizations received loans

42 professional associations received loans