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Thousands of SLO County companies received federal loans

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Between $396 million and $740 million in forgivable loans went to thousands of San Luis Obispo County businesses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), newly released data shows.

Launched in late March at the onset of COVID-19, the $660 billion PPP enabled businesses nationwide to apply for up to $10 million in forgivable loans to retain employees and cover basic expenses during stay-at-home orders.

FEDERAL AID More than 5,000 SLO County businesses received aid through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to recent data. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • FEDERAL AID More than 5,000 SLO County businesses received aid through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to recent data.

On July 6, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a partial data set of where PPP funds have gone. It shows the businesses and nonprofits that received $150,000 or higher loans since April.

In SLO County, 735 businesses took out loans of between $150,000 and $10 million (the maximum allowed), which collectively helped retain 31,255 jobs. In addition, more than 4,000 unidentified businesses received loans of less than $150,000, covering 22,349 jobs, according to the data.

Most of the 735 larger loan recipients in SLO County—675—received between $150,000 and $1 million in aid. Only 60 loans topped $1 million.

The two businesses with the biggest loans—between $5 million and $10 million—are both contractors: Papich Construction Company in Arroyo Grande and MGE Underground in Paso Robles.

The $1 million to $5 million loan recipients ran the gamut of industries. The Madonna Inn, Martin Resorts, and Cliffs Resorts all received aid in that range. Other job sectors included agriculture (Talley Farms, Greenheart Farms, Daou Vineyards, Castaneda & Sons, and others); health care (San Luis Ambulance, Wilshire Health & Community Services, Movement for Life); energy (Kings Oil Tools); retail (Miner's Ace Hardware); tech (iFixit); restaurants (the Old Custom House); and manufacturers (Trust Automation).

Smaller businesses with fewer employees made up most of the $150,000 to $350,000 awardees. Among those was New Times, which the SBA approved for a loan on April 16.

Nearly 30 nonprofits, including private schools, also received loans. St. Patrick's School in Arroyo Grande and Mission Prep in SLO received loans of between $350,000 and $1 million. Peoples' Self-Help Housing, Woods Humane Society, Transitions-Mental Health Association, the Food Bank, the YMCA, and the SLO Noor Foundation received aid. Churches countywide also successfully participated in the program.

In a July 8 statement, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) announced that PPP assistance brought $1.16 billion for 158,114 jobs across the 24th Congressional District, which includes SLO, Santa Barbara, and parts of Ventura counties.

Carbajal praised the program but also pressed the SBA for more transparency. During its rollout, PPP came under fire for allegedly favoring large and even some publicly traded corporations over smaller businesses.

"We need more complete data, including information on how economically disadvantaged business owners have fared," Carbajal said. "I will continue to advocate for better transparency and oversight of SBA lending practices, so we can be sure federal assistance is going to the businesses who need it most."

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