Loans retained 45,000-plus jobs in Butler County: Who saved the most

More than 3,800 loans were made to Butler County businesses through a federal program aimed at helping them keep workers employed and in their payroll system during the coronavirus slowdown, data released this week show.

The U.S. Small Business Administration loans in the Paycheck Protection Program helped those businesses retain 45,557 jobs, according to the data released on Monday.

The federal government released data on individual loans for the first time, and a Journal-News analysis showed that 531 loans made to Butler County businesses were for $150,000 or more, while 3,286 were for less than that amount.

Businesses that received more than $150,000 also had their names released. Six of those — Thunderdome Restaurants, Planes Moving & Storage, Cohen Holdings, Four Seasons Environmental, Pilot Chemical Corporation and Deceuninck North America — were at the highest level, with loans between $5 million and $10 million, in Butler County.

Almost 180,000 businesses in Ohio received nearly $20 billion via both PPP loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, according to Roger Geiger, executive director for the Ohio chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, or NFIB.

The majority of Ohio businesses took an economic hit, which unfortunately meant they had to lay off employees, Geiger said.

PPP loans were “a huge lifeline” to many of the small businesses that wanted to remain economically viable, even if their doors were closed, he said.

With 70 percent of the funding required to be devoted to payroll, the loans prevented unemployment totals from soaring even higher, Geiger said.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act initially included about $377 billion that went for small business supports, including the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress added another $320 billion to in April, for companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Nationally, more than $521 billion has been loaned to nearly 4.9 million applicants as of Monday, according to the SBA.

“It’s kind of counterintuitive to think that small businesses are looking for government handouts, but remember, this was in reaction to what government told them they had to do, to shut their business,” Geiger said. “I think it was very fair, very equitable for the federal government to step in and provide these loans.”

The rollout of the PPP loans had its share of issues, including a first round that was “a little bit clumsy, a little bit bureaucratic,” but the government ultimately was able to get the funds to businesses.

It’s still seeking to do so, Geiger said.

“There’s still $130 billion out there that small businesses can take advantage of,” he said. “I believe they have until Aug. 8 to do so.”

Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said one of the biggest challenges for businesses was that the guidelines were not defined and kept changing.

Despite that, for many businesses in the area, the PPP loan was “a godsend,” one that kept them afloat and allowed them to develop a plan for long-term survival, Bates said.

While many business owners who did not get the PPP loan chalked it up to preferential treatment, Bates said it was more a case of those that did having something that was “critically important,” namely a strong relationship with a financial institution or an accounting firm.

“It was the people who had the relationships that got their loans applications in first,” he said. “The people who got hurt the most were the ones that didn’t have those relationships established.”

Bates said the chamber helped business owners who wanted to apply with financial institutions that could take them on.

Rick Pearce, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, said those established relationships were important because lending institutions were the entities that submitted PPP applications on behalf of a business.

“The lending institution actually makes the loan and then the federal government is going to guarantee that to the bank again and the bank has to jump through a lot of hoops,” Pearce said.

Butler County companies with most jobs retained by PPP loans

Thunderdome Restaurants, LLC: 50

Skyline Chili, LLC: 500

Planes Moving & Storage, Inc: 499

Tri County Extended Care Center: 442

Hillandale Communities, Inc.: 435

Sunesis Construction: 431

Cohen Holdings, Inc.: 400

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati Ohio Inc.: 396

Quality Gold Inc.: 359

Four Seasons Environmental, Inc.: 347

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