4,200 Local Businesses Received Payroll Protection Loans

WASHINGTON DC – More than 4,200 businesses across western Montgomery, eastern Berks, and northern Chester counties collectively received tens of millions of dollars in federal Payroll Protection Program loans made available between April and August (2020), as employers suffered shutdown-related effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Information about each of the transactions was released Tuesday (Dec. 1) by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under court order.

The Paycheck Protection Program was specifically “designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll,” the SBA explains. Proponents estimated it ensured employment for hundreds of area jobholders at a time when businesses might otherwise have closed their doors and laid them off.

It provided loans at an interest rate of 1 percent, with terms of between 2 and 5 years. The agency promised to forgive loans and demand no repayment “if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.” Some rules changed over time, however. The program closed Aug. 8.

Locally, both large and small firms benefited from the emergency infusions. Individually they range from a tattoo artist in Royersford who borrowed less than $1,800, to Limerick-headquartered Venezia Hauling Inc., which received about $7 million, the SBA database shows.

Participating banks serving as intermediaries to distribute the government funds varied from national financiers like Wells Fargo and PNC Bank, to small community lenders that include The Victory Bank in Limerick and Phoenixville Federal Bank and Trust.

Overall, in 5.15 million loans made to companies spanning every state in the nation, the payroll protection program amounted to a stimulus of roughly $659 billion. The SBA initially released detailed information on only companies that borrowed more than $150,000. But in November it lost a six-month Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by several news organizations seeking release of the same data on all recipients.

A story about the SBA action published near midnight Tuesday by the Philadelphia Business Journal -whose parent company was among those joining the lawsuit – embeds a custom version of the entire database that includes the 172,566 loans distributed in Pennsylvania.

A database review by The Post of municipalities covered by its editions shows loans were accepted:

  • In the Pottstown area, in Pottstown by 779 businesses (although the SBA refers to “Pottstown” firms as those within 19464 and 19465 zip codes that include Pottstown borough, the three Pottsgrove townships, a portion of Limerick Township, and a portion of Chester County); in St. Peters, 3; and north and west of the borough in Berks County, in Birdsboro, 171; Douglassville, 152; Bechtelsville, 50; Barto, 45; and Amity, 9;
  • In the Gilbertsville area, in Boyertown by 211 businesses; Gilbertsville, 54; New Berlinville, 8; and Sassamansville, 2;
  • In the Limerick area, in Royersford by 328 businesses; and Spring City, 139;
  • In the Mont Clare area, in Phoenixville by 723 businesses; Oaks, 29; and Mont Clare, 12;
  • In the Perkiomen Valley area, in Collegeville by 533 businesses; Harleysville, 357; Schwenksville, 164; Skippack, 69; Perkiomenville, 62; Zieglerville, 16; Lederach, 13; Frederick, 8; Creamery, 6; Salford, 2; and Salfordville, 1; and
  • In the Upper Perkiomen area, in Green Lane, 293; Pennsburg, 165.

Access to the Philadelphia Business Journal article and database is limited to its subscribers, but it can be searched by name for any municipality listed above. The search yields the name and location of each borrower, its industry designation, the lender and loan amount, and the transaction date.

Within the Commonwealth, the largest approved loan was for $7.86 million, made by Fulton Bank to the Hershey Creamery Company, the ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturer, identified with a Harrisburg PA address.

The smallest approved loan amount? It was $308, received by two firms: sole proprietor Juan Perez, who operates a limousine service in Lansdale PA, lent by the Wilmington Savings Fund Society; and AMD Senior Purecare LLC, a 24-hour home care service in Philadelphia, lent by Bank of America.

Dollars photo by Giorgio Trovato via Unpslash, used under license
Paycheck Protection Program logo from the U.S. Small Business Administration