PPP loans helping Bryan-College Station businesses stay afloat during pandemic – Bryan-College Station Eagle

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PPP loans helping Bryan-College Station businesses stay afloat during pandemic – Bryan-College Station Eagle

PPP loans helping Bryan-College Station businesses stay afloat during pandemic

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PPP loans helping Bryan-College Station businesses stay afloat during pandemic




Local restaurant and bar owners say they have benefited from receiving another Paycheck Protection Program loan, designed to provide COVID-19 relief and allow small businesses to keep their employees on payroll.

PPP loans, which are backed by the Small Business Administration, are eligible for full or partial forgiveness if the money is used for certain qualifying costs, such as payroll, rent and utilities. The U.S. Senate passed a bill 92-7 on Thursday to extend from March 31 to May 31 the deadline for business owners to apply for the current round of loans. The bill already passed the House, and political observers expect President Joe Biden to sign the legislation.

Wade Beckman, the owner of Amico Nave, Shipwreck Grill and 3rd On Main, said while the process of receiving and using loans has been exhausting, he has been grateful to have the funds.

“If it wasn’t for these PPP loans … we own three businesses, four with a catering company, [and] all of these businesses would not be open,” Beckman said. “One hundred percent, there’s no possible way we would’ve made it through with all three businesses without the PPP loan and some of the other ones as well.”

Mary Beckman, Wade’s wife, said they received their second PPP loan on

Jan. 25 and have 24 weeks, or until July 11, to use the funds.

“Right now, it’s just keeping us where we actually might get to make a little money,” Mary Beckman said.

Added Wade Beckman, “If sales continue to go like they’re going, and we officially get caught up with everything that we owed when we were shut down, which we’ve caught back up to paying that … this second one could have the potential to provide some of the lost income if sales stay where they are.”

Mary Beckman said they have created a text and email group with owners of 27 local restaurants that communicate almost on a daily basis. One of those members is Aaron Curs, who co-owns restaurants All the King’s Men and Proudest Monkey in Downtown Bryan and bars Paddock Lane and Tipsy Turtle on Northgate.

Curs described the second PPP loan as a “great shot in the arm.”

“This round of PPP has been great, because it’s allowed us as we kind of crawl our way back to a little bit of normal to try to hire up,” Curs said. “The PPP has been great because we can breathe a little bit again, even if our sales aren’t back. It buys us a couple of months pretending like things are normal from an operations standpoint.”

One issue both Curs and the Beckmans have faced is operating restaurants without a full staff.

Wade Beckman said he used to employ 65 to 75 people across his three restaurants, but now it’s 40 to 45. Curs said he has about 70% to 80% of his normal staff, adding it will slowly increase. Curs noted that despite having a smaller staff, the PPP loan has allowed him to pay more, if needed, and maintain a high-quality staff.

Glen Brewer, CEO of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview that on Thursday the chamber held its annual BCS Chamber Day — a day on which local leaders and community members visit hundreds of area businesses — and he heard from several business operators who said they could open even more fully but are struggling in some cases to hire employees.

“Many businesses are desperate to hire people,” Brewer said.

“I have talked to so many people that would not be open right now if they had not gotten their PPP loan,” Brewer said. “They were able to keep people employed and still had to cut some of the payroll, but they were paying their rent and keeping some people employed.

Another issue the Beckmans and Curs said they faced during the first PPP loan last summer were the unknown rules of the loan. This time around, these restaurant and bar owners said they’ve been able to know what to expect more.

“Sales have picked up a little bit for people,” Curs said. “I don’t know that it’s returned to normal for a lot of people, but at least it’s kind of stabilized in the middle.”

Mary Beckman said she’s attended at least 16 webinars put on by the National Restaurant Association and the Texas Restaurant Association over the past year to figure out how to manage the loans, such as applying for forgiveness, noting they were invaluable.

“There’s no way I could’ve gotten through it without knowing all of those pieces,” she said.

Curs noted how using the PPP loans are different for bars since 60% of the loan must be used for payroll, but bars have a higher rent than restaurants due to location.

“It’s been a little weird for the bars because the percentages stay the same for a restaurant, but I’m not complaining,” Curs said. “I’m just glad to have it.”

As sales continue to trickle back, Curs said these PPP loans have helped local restaurants that aren’t in high-traffic areas.

“We’re all kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here, which is pretty relieving,” Curs said. “We’ll all get back.”

The BCS Chamber of Commerce and the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center teamed up twice last year to survey local businesses in myriad fields. The surveys interviewed hundreds of firms in June and November to gauge the economic impacts of the pandemic — and included questions about PPP loans.

Two PERC economists, Dennis Jansen and Andrew Rettenmaier, said in a Zoom interview that 58.4% of the 214 local business respondents in November said they had applied for PPP loans, and 80.4% of those who received the PPP forgivable loans received $150,000 or less.

Brewer, in his separate interview, also noted that locally, smaller businesses were the majority of beneficiaries of the PPP funds, which news reports indicated may not have been true nationwide.

“Here locally, it was not the big companies that were getting bailouts,” Brewer said. Jansen, Rettenmaier and Brewer said a wide variety of businesses took advantage of the loans, which Jansen said operate more like grants assuming paperwork is filled out correctly.

Jansen said that through March 21, Texas has received $15.2 billion in PPP loans, 7.8% of the total. That amount trails California ($26.1 billion) and New York ($16.2 billion). Rettenmaier said that so far in 2021, according to national SBA data, food services has received the largest share of loans, at 17%, followed by the construction industry at 13%.

“For restaurants especially, if that allowed them to get over the period where they were completely shut down, and to maintain operations when they were partially shut down, it may have worked to keep them around,” Jansen said. “Maybe they wouldn’t be here without this.”

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