Almost half of Massachusetts businesses helped by federal aid
In some communities, more than 90 percent get funds
NEARLY HALF OF the state’s businesses and nonprofits received aid from a key federal loan program meant to keep people employed amid the coronavirus downturn, according to a new analysis by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
The report says data from the Small Business Administration, which oversees the Paycheck Protection Program, show 46 percent of Massachusetts firms had received funding by July. The loans covered businesses employing 1,142,304 people, although the number could be slightly higher, as a few businesses did not report how many jobs their loan amount would save.
The percentage of businesses receiving awards in each community varies greatly — more than 75 percent of businesses got loans in some, while in others, less than 25 percent got funds.
Companies can borrow up to 250 percent of the firm’s monthly payroll with a maximum loan of $10 million through the program. The law requires 60 percent of the award to go for payroll while 40 percent can be used for rent, utilities, and other business expenses in order to be forgiven. If the aid remains a loan and not a grant, the two or five year loans carry a 1 percent annual interest rate.
An interactive map breaks down how many businesses received aid in each of the state’s 351 municipalities and what sectors benefited the most. MAPC calculated the number of establishments in each municipality using the 2018 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. According to the database there are a total of 244,313 businesses in Massachusetts.
“It’s critical to know where the money is going,” said Sarah Philbrick, an analyst with the planning council. “Are they small businesses? Big businesses? It’s important to have transparency.”
She said more than 112,900 applications in Massachusetts were approved.
The Treasury Department said in July that funds from the PPP program supported 51.1 million jobs — or as much as 84 percent of the nation’s small business workforce.
In West Tisbury, a small town on Martha’s Vineyard, 92.2 percent of the town’s businesses received loans.
The town’s three top loan recipients all received between $350,000 to $1 million from three different lenders. Two are construction companies, and the other provides waste service. They saved a combined 95 jobs.
In Boston, 40 percent of existing businesses received funds from the PPP program. In Worcester, the figure was 31 percent. The sector with the most loans in Boston was in professional, scientific and technical services, while in Worcester, health care and social assistance firms received the largest share of loans.
Suburbs like Needham and Brookline fell in the middle, with 63 percent and 50 percent of establishments covered by loans.
While the data don’t show business names, they do document the impact on jobs. In Charlestown, for instance, a $1 to $2 million loan made to a professional and technical services company by TD Bank saved 90 jobs. Another $2 to $5 million loan made by Eastern Savings Bank to a Boston health care nonprofit kept 496 people employed.
Even with the huge infusion of federal funds, businesses are struggling. About 44 percent of small businesses have lost at least half of their revenue, according to a July poll by the MassINC Polling Group.
Only a third of businesses polled have been able to fully reopen. For many of the PPP recipients, funds have been used up quickly.
“Most of those businesses and nonprofits will tell you that they spent the last of their forgivable PPP loans weeks ago,” said Greg Reibman, president of the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber of Commerce, in a newsletter last week.Lenders for businesses that received loans during the first two rounds of funding began submitting applications for loan forgiveness to the Small Business Association on August 10. There are hopes that another round of funding will be made available through the next stimulus package, which is currently at an impasse in Congress.
“I think given the economic reports we’re seeing and given we have highest unemployment rate of any state, any assistance available for our businesses is helpful,” said Carolyn Ryan, senior vice president for policy and research at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, which has been calling for more stimulus funding.