More than 245,000 small businesses in New York City have received around $40 billion in loans from a federal program created to give a short-term lifeline to companies with fewer than 500 employees.
According to the federal Small Business Administration, another $120 billion is left to loan out in the Payroll Protection Program. The loans are forgivable if the money is used on payroll, rent, and utilities costs in the eight week period after the money is received, and if the businesses maintain staffing and compensation levels.
But that money is expected to go quickly.
“There’s about 100 and some odd billion dollars left of loans, which will probably take us for another couple of days,” Beth Goldberg, the district director for SBA’s New York office, said in a phone interview.
The SBA has not released a breakdown of where the money is going by zip code or borough, or demographic information showing who is getting loans.
This is the second round of Congressionally-funded PPP loans, with an average loan amount of $76,000—about $130,000 less than the first round, when lenders and the federal government were criticized after Shake Shack and Potbelly got multimillion dollar loans through a provision that allowed owners to apply if each location had fewer than 500 employees. (Both companies have since announced they are returning the money.)
The first round provided some $349 billion nationwide, with just $20.3 billion going to 81,075 businesses in New York. The second round provided $310 billion, and 164,271 loans have been made nationwide as of May 1.
According to an analysis by Liberty Street Economics, hard-hit states like New York have so far received disproportionately fewer loans. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey and found that 84 percent of business owners who applied for PPP loans in the first round had not received funding as of April 17th (before the second round of funding launched). For minority and women-owned businesses, 90 percent hadn’t gotten funding at that time.
“I can’t say what’s going to happen after June 30th, you know, it was an eight-week program to help keep people off unemployment and keep businesses and their teams together,” Goldberg said, referring to the program’s end date.
Goldberg encouraged business owners to apply for the loan program and seek out SBA’s existing resources to plan for their businesses’ future.
“They’re being confronted with challenges and they shouldn’t feel like they’re alone,” she said.
The intent of the legislation, she added, was to keep businesses on their feet so they’re ready to operate when they do re-open—acknowledging it may look differently than before the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think what we’re seeing in entrepreneurship is businesses looking at their businesses and taking a focus to see how they could do their business differently.” Goldberg said. “There is a woman in my neighborhood who has a hair salon and she will mix your color for you, and give you the directions, the brushes, the gloves, everything you need to do your own hair, and you could do curbside pick-up with her as well.”
It is unclear if Congress would issue another round of PPP loans. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the small business committee, told CNN, “The question is, do we need to add money for new loans or do we need to add money to replenish the loans that have been made?”
Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio told me “potentially” Congress will have to add more to PPP when it runs out, indicating the decision hasn’t been made
“The question is do we need to add money for new loans or do we need to add money to replenish the loans that have been made”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 7, 2020
Two small businesses we spoke with previously were approved for the PPP loans in the second round—a Flushing print shop and local delivery app owner, as well as a small liquor license law firm in Manhattan.
Goldberg said the program is working better as new guidance has been issued from the Treasury Department and the SBA—like plans to audit businesses with loans totaling more than $2 million, and requiring applicants to demonstrate their need. She also noted that the program is “unprecedented” for the SBA.
“In a normal time, SBA does about $30 billion of lending guarantees nationwide for 66,000 loans. During PPP 1, SBA did more lending in just under 14 days than it’s done in the past 14 years,” Goldberg said. “PPP 2, and towards the end of PPP 1, we added [a total of] 5,400 lenders.” Previously, there was about 1,000 lenders working with SBA.