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Tallahassee Businesses Take Home Paycheck Protection Program
Richard Fetchick, Business Intelligence Manager
The Covid-19 pandemic created a fast-acting recession with immediate impacts to employment and business bottom lines. Unlike the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis, Leon County’s employment dipped by 20,000 in April 2020 – just the second month of the crisis – whereas employment hit its low point following the sub-prime crisis in 2012, almost four years later. Federal, state, and local assistance responded accordingly, with near-immediate financial responses mobilized to help save businesses and retain employment.
While Tallahassee-Leon County implemented the COVID-19 Economic Disaster Relief (CEDR) grant within two weeks of mandatory shutdowns, the largest apportionment of business assistance originated from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This forgivable loan, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, made money available to businesses with proven revenue impacts due to COVID-19 for use of payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other eligible expenses. As of mid-April 2021, over 9.5 million loans totaling $755 billion dollars had been approved nationwide.
Tallahassee banks and credit unions played a major role in the disbursal of these funds. Businesses received application assistance and ultimately managed the forgivable loan reporting through financial institutions, such as Capital City Bank, Prime Meridian Bank, First Commerce Credit Union, FAMU Federal Credit Union, Envision, and others. As a result, major dollars flowed to local companies, helping keep doors open and employees on payroll.
Currently available Paycheck Protection Program data suggest that Tallahassee obtained greater funding than either Gainesville or Pensacola. A total of 8,442 forgivable loans were made to Tallahassee businesses, worth $557.45 million dollars. The average loan amount was $66,033. 7,668 of these loans were for under $150k, totaling $228 million to very small businesses. The remaining 774 loans of $150k and above brought in an additional $329.3 million to our community. There were a total of 4,890 loans to Gainesville businesses worth $379.6 million and 6,657 to Pensacola businesses worth $516.5 million as of the writing of this article.
Ultimately, the Paycheck Protection Program infused hundreds of billions of dollars to businesses nationwide and across Florida, helping to mitigate the effects of in-person business shutdowns. Tallahassee-based businesses, through information and technical assistance disseminated locally, were able to take advantage of this program at above-average rates and utilized over $550 million toward the benefit of the community. As employment and taxable sales make their way towards pre-pandemic levels, the Paycheck Protection Program appears to have increased the community’s resilience and helped it to recover from this recession.