At the end of the PPP loan program, the export of small businesses in Tampa Bay is approaching $ 10 billion.

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An early business victim of the coronavirus pandemic was a victim that was particularly hard hit by Jill Whelan, owner of A Special Touch – Cakes by Carolynn in St. Petersburg: the wedding industry.

“The whole cake industry,” she said. “Birthdays, everyone.”

Whelan’s business received two loans under the Small Business Administration’s payroll protection program, one for $ 20,377 last year and the other for $ 20,000 in January. She used them to pay bills and salaries for her three-person staff.

“We closed for a month,” she said. “But it was these PPP loans that saved us. Because if I didn’t have that, we would have to close our doors. “

Whelan is not alone. Since opening in spring 2020, the Payroll Protection Program has provided 8.5 million small businesses and nonprofits with nearly $ 800 billion in largely forgivable loans.

The program officially closed on May 31st. And while the totals remain incomplete as banks process the final loans, it is clear that the help to the Florida economy has been tremendous.

According to data compiled by the Small Business Administration as of June 1, banks have approved at least $ 51.2 billion in loans over 14 months to more than 1 million Sunshine State businesses.

In Tampa Bay, no fewer than 161,000 loans, worth more than $ 9.8 billion, have been disbursed to businesses in eight counties around Tampa Bay – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Lamante, Hernando and Citrus, according to an analysis of data at the zip code level. …

Much of the economy has recovered since the start of the pandemic, and in many cases businesses are doing even better. Without the Payroll Protection Program, which covered costs such as wages, rent, and utilities, this might not have happened.

“I don’t think the recovery would have happened without this money,” said Michael Kilpatrick, president of the Tampa Bay Market for Centennial Bank, which has processed thousands of loans to help. “Everyone has the impression that the government is ready to support your business, and this is the most important thing.”

While companies of all sizes have benefited, from government corporations to tiny family families, larger companies have generally received the most.

More than 92 percent of all loans in Tampa Bay were under $ 150,000, indicating a huge number of small businesses that received at least some emergency funding. But these businesses received only about 39 percent of the total loan pie.

Larger businesses that asked for more money received 61 percent of Florida payroll protection funding, including about 50 that were approved for between $ 5 million and $ 10 million, which is the maximum amount any business can get. This includes the Times Holding Company, which operates Tampa Bay Times and related publications and received $ 8.5 million.

At least 25 Florida companies have received approval for a maximum loan amount of $ 10 million in 2020, including Red Lobster, Tijuana Flats, Silver Airways and Stein Mart, which filed for bankruptcy in August.

Five Tampa Bay businesses have been approved for $ 10 million in loans: JTS Enterprises of Tampa, which operates a network of local McDonald’s franchises; Florida Medical Clinic at Zephyrhills; Florida Lutheran Services in Tampa; Truecore Behavioral Solutions in Tampa; and The Citrus World in Lake Wales.

Not every company kept all the money it was approved for. Some paid off loans, although most companies were not ultimately required to do so. In the case of Lutheran Services Florida, a nonprofit that helps underserved children and families, the company spent about half of its loan on operations and staffing child protection and kindergarten preparation programs, spokeswoman Terry Durdaller said. The company’s revenue stream should return to pre-pandemic levels in July, and the company plans to return unused funds, she said.

A Citrus World spokesman said the loan helped the company retain its employees, even though its foodservice division lost 90 percent of its revenue. Calls and emails to JTS Enterprises, Florida Medical Clinic and Truecore Behavioral Solutions have not been returned.

Connected: These state-owned Tampa Bay companies have received millions of small business loans through PPPs.

The “second draw” government loans, which became available in January and were capped at $ 2 million, have enabled thousands of businesses to nearly double their initial lending fees from 2020, including some large ones.

Florida Aquarium received $ 1.98 million last year and the same this year, while Clearwater Marine Aquarium received $ 1.62 million last year and slightly less in 2021. Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel received $ 2.95 million in 2020 and another $ 2 million in 2021. ZooTampa at Lowry Park raised $ 2.17 million last year and $ 2 million this year. The David A. Straz, Jr. Performing Arts Center received $ 2.82 million, followed by $ 1.87 million.

Second catches of some companies will be included in their subsequent requests for targeted grants that have not yet been allocated, for example, the Restaurant Restoration Fund and Grants for Operators of Indoor Areas. Companies that receive secondary loans will see this money deducted from the grant allocation.

Accounting arrangements have allowed some corporate umbrella companies to gain more.

Last summer, for example, 10 hotels headquartered at the same address in Tampa – all partly owned by Tampa entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel – received $ 19.8 million. In the second draw, the same hotels were approved for an additional $ 10.8 million. (Patel is part of an investment group that loaned $ 15 million to the Times publishing company.)

Morgan and Morgan, a law firm headquartered in Orlando, has received nine loans totaling $ 18.1 million for its Southeast offices, including $ 5.5 million for its Tampa office.

A collection of 15 restaurants and businesses in Tampa associated with Outback Steakhouse co-founders Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan received $ 10.2 million last year and $ 4.9 million this year. And eight corporations operating under the auspices of Columbia Restaurant, including subsidiaries Goody Goody and Ulele, received nearly $ 6 million in loans last year and $ 3.9 million this year.

Connected: 10 Loans, One Address: Tampa Philanthropists’ Hotels Receive Millions of Federal Aid

For small businesses, the impact of loans depended in part on how much they were eligible to receive.

“Everyone I spoke to tried to get their best,” said Lynn Conlan, executive director of the South Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.

It also included the South Hillsborough House itself. Non-profit organizations such as chambers of commerce were initially not eligible for last year’s loans. It hurt their bottom line, Conlan said, as some businesses closed and others could no longer afford membership.

In February, the South Hillsborough House received $ 17,176 – enough to offset some of the losses from canceled dinners and exhibitions.

“We only have two employees, but we used them to pay wages, bills and rent and the like,” Conlan said. “It helped us. We have never closed all the time. “

Connected: Doctors Clearwater got a PPP loan and then disbanded the practice – but only on paper

Ana Stout, 38, said her loans helped a little at her Westchase Amour Nails and Spa. She received $ 6,260 in 2020 and $ 6,771 this year. But with her rents of about $ 3,700 a month and two salaried workers earning about $ 2,000 a month, the money didn’t go far.

“Six pieces is nothing, to be honest,” she said. “But something is better than nothing.”

One of the long-term effects of a loan program may have nothing to do with the money itself. According to Centennial Bank’s Kilpatrick, the application and forgiveness processes may have changed the way small businesses view their finances and business models. And it opened up new channels of communication between small businesses, their banks and the federal government.

“The good thing we are taking out of all this confusion is that business owners are now looking at their business from different angles,” said Kilpatrick. “If you’ve already gone through this, you can go through everything.”

Connected: Businesses don’t have to forgive PPP loans as COVID-19 relief bill approaches

This is how it was in “A Special Touch – Carolynne Cakes.” Whelan cut her budget and started making cupcakes instead of wedding cakes. Customers bought $ 300 gift cards to help run the business every month.

Between that and her two loans, the company is doing well enough that Whelan has decided not to apply for the other federal grants now available to businesses like hers. She no longer thinks she needs them.

“If the weddings that were supposed to be last year are approaching this year, then all the weddings that were planned for this year are approaching,” she said. “I just thank God that we did it.”

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