As commerce across the country continues to grapple with the long-term fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in South Vermont have made their way through the murky waters with a floating elevator through federal payroll protections.
Since the payroll protection program was launched on April 3 last year, Vermont has received $ 1.76 billion in cash. sba.gov… To date, 21,942 loans have been disbursed throughout the state.
While the results of the cash infusion have yet to be quantified, the scale of the money being raised in South Vermont is clear.
Tens of millions
In June of this year, Bennington County received 1,197 PPP loans totaling $ 87,835,608; In Windham County, where the spreadsheets are incomplete, Vermont News and Media confirmed that about $ 34 million were provided in PPP loans through a local bank.
Bennington County had 17,384 jobs in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Jonathan Cooper, a Bennington County Regional Commissioner. In 2020, the number of jobs in Bennington County fell to 15,420 people.
Although almost 2,000 jobs could have been lost, the number of jobs that were saved as a result of PPP loans was significant.
Loans can be divided into two categories, Cooper said: businesses that received $ 150,000 or more, and those that received less than $ 150,000.
Of the 1,197 loans in Bennington County, Cooper said 90 percent of them were under $ 150,000, with an average loan amount of just over $ 33,000. The total cost of all these small loans, which he said supported some 5,400 jobs, was $ 36 million. However, according to him, these loans were the most important.
“At the end of 2020, there were 610 beneficiaries below the $ 150,000 threshold and 69 beneficiaries above it. … These funds were very necessary to support business operations, to maintain wages, and that is what the first round of the Payroll Protection Program was designed for: payroll, Cooper said. “We are currently understaffed, and being able to keep staff on pay during the shutdown was really important to keeping the business alive in the new year.”
About 500 loans were made to sole proprietorships or business partnerships that had one or two employees, and more than three-quarters of the loans were to businesses with fewer than 10 jobs, Cooper said.
Cooper said there were 114 PPP loans in the county totaling $ 150,000 or more, totaling about $ 51.8 million, with an average loan of $ 455,000. Although the number of loans was significantly lower, Cooper said that cumulatively, these funds have supported more than 5,000 employees. However, as with the 5,400 jobs supported by businesses that received less than $ 150,000, as some businesses received more than one PPP loan, Cooper said some of these jobs were counted more than once.
Bennington and Manchester received the largest assistance, accounting for 70 percent of loans and 81 percent of the total. Bennington received 431 loans totaling $ 39.7 million, with Manchester in second place with 409 loans totaling $ 32 million. According to Cooper, Dorset and Arlington came in third and fourth, respectively, Dorset received 111 loans worth $ 7 million, and Arlington received 76 loans worth $ 2.8 million.
According to Cooper, if the loans received by some businesses are not forgiven, it will become a “very profitable loan” with 1 interest rate, which will be paid over five years. With a second draw for PPP loans now available, Cooper said some business owners may have seen this as a good opportunity to invest in their business while continuing to support the payroll.
“Where recruiting was a problem, access to very affordable capital could help with recruiting and / or retaining employees through bonuses, pay adjustments or other benefits,” Cooper said. “Moreover, if businesses wanted to make capital investments in this market with such high costs of materials, equipment and labor, it could be a valuable resource.”
In Windham County
In Windham County, the executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. Adam Greenold said that following Gov. Phil Scott’s first emergency order in March 2020, the BDCC worked with over 700 Windham County businesses in one capacity or another to connect them to resources, whether it was a PPP loan or a government agency for commerce and public programs. development.
In addition, Greenold said the BDCC has partnered with the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Commission to launch a nationwide program to help people access these funding opportunities; The county manufacturing company partnered with Vermont’s regional development corporations through a program that also provided technical assistance.
Greenold said PPP loans allow businesses to keep paying staff and, he believes, give businesses the confidence to keep their doors open.
Daniel Yates, president and chief executive officer of Brattleboro Savings & Loan, said the PPP loan program was a significant part of the business of sole proprietors. These loans, he said, were typically less than $ 50,000 and were sometimes backed by a single employee.
In the round of one of the loans issued by Brattleboro Savings & Loan, which ran from April 2020 to the end of the year, 218 of these loans were for less than $ 150,000 and 27 were for more than $ 150,000.
In the second round, which began in January this year, the bank issued 170 loans. Of these loans, 154 were less than $ 150,000 and 16 were over $ 150,000. In addition, Yates said that of the 170 loans, 115 were second-run PPP loans.
In total, Brattleboro Savings & Loan has issued 315 loans worth $ 34,150,000 to date across Windham County.
Difficulty identifying jobs saved
Yates said it was difficult to determine how many jobs could have been saved as a result of PPP loans, as they did not receive final information from borrowers as to whether they were able to retain all of their employees.
When the process first began, Yates said the bank had made the decision to process someone’s loan, even if they weren’t already a client. He pointed out that this decision was made for several reasons, but one of them was uncertainty about how long the funds would be available: especially since loans were made on a first come, first served basis, and people throughout the community were worried about whether they would will be able to get the funds they need to survive their business.
“For us … this is a public bank. We worked there at 1:30 am, 2 am, processing these applications, ”said Yates. “We sit here, my entire commercial banking team and myself, and we enter these applications one at a time into the SBA portal.”
The goal to start so early, Yeats said, was to find time for California to finish filing and before New York starts receiving its applications, before it gets more difficult.
“It worked,” he said. “We were incredibly pleased that we were able to provide, as I said, about $ 34 million in loans to our public business.”
However, there is still a lot of work and resources to be done. In addition to the second PPP draw, Greenold mentioned the State Economic Recovery Program as a valuable resource for Vermont businesses.
“Many small businesses and sole proprietors are caught in the gap between some of the gaps that early recovery programs have intentionally created,” Greenold said. “Latest [state] The program really aims to fill these gaps by helping to ensure that businesses that have not received any funds to date can be the first in line to participate in this latest program. ”
While there is a possibility that some businesses will not be able to weather this difficult time due to easing travel restrictions and increased tourism in the state during the summer, Yates said he hoped.
“They’re bringing in the dollars that everyone saved up during the pandemic, and they can’t wait to get out of here … so from that point of view, it’s a good recovery, and hopefully it will continue,” Yates said.