20200713-LOC-PPP

Walpole-based Bensonwood was one of more than 1,500 local businesses and nonprofit groups to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan. This file photo shows the company’s plant on Production Avenue in Keene.

Between $100 million and $200 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program was awarded to more than 1,500 businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Monadnock Region, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

Of those, 189 businesses received somewhere between $150,000 and $5 million apiece, for a total of $61.8 million to $153.3 million, while the remainder received smaller loans ranging from $300 to $149,700, for an additional $46.26 million.

For those smaller loans, the data show exact dollar figures but do not name the businesses. The entities that received larger loans are identified by name, but the amounts they received are reported in ranges.

That’s why it’s unclear precisely how much money flowed into the area from the program, but the total falls somewhere between $108.1 million and $199.5 million.

The Sentinel analyzed data for the 31 New Hampshire communities within the paper’s coverage area. The local companies and organizations that received loans come from all manner of industries, including manufacturers, restaurants, car dealerships, educational facilities, construction companies and more.

The Paycheck Protection Program, implemented by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is part of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump in late March in response to the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, $349 billion was earmarked for the program. Another $310 billion was added when that quickly ran out.

The program is meant to help relatively small companies keep their employees on the payroll, as many were forced to temporarily suspend operations due to the outbreak. The loans are forgivable if 60 percent of the money is spent on payroll.

Keene Mayor George Hansel said this funding has been “vital” for area businesses.

“Small businesses represent our largest employment base,” Hansel said. “To make sure that they can weather this storm is super important and that relief funding just helped on so many levels to make sure we could keep people employed.”

Hansel’s family owns Filtrine Manufacturing Co., a Keene-based business that received between $1 million and $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program.

The government released the Paycheck Protection Program data last week after pressure from the media and lawmakers. The program has come under fire for providing loans to large companies and has been criticized for failing to consider how much in need applicants were.

In the Monadnock Region, seven entities received loans between $2 and $5 million: WKS Inc., which providers support services for people with disabilities, in Keene; Jebediah S. Christy D.D.S. in Keene; 2 Percent Hospitality Inc., which owns the Monadnock Inn in Jaffrey; the building-supply retailer Belletetes, based in Jaffrey; Franklin Pierce University in Rindge; Peterborough Retirement Community at Upland Farm Inc., which operates as RiverMead; and William F. Fenton LLC, also known as Fenton Family Dealerships, which has locations in Keene and Swanzey.

Another 11 recipients were awarded between $1 and $2 million each.

The Keene Sentinel was awarded a loan in the $350,000 to $1 million range.

In the Monadnock Region, Keene received more loans than any other community, with 401 recipients getting less than $150,000 and 68 receiving between $150,000 and $5 million. The next highest was Peterborough, with 168 loans under $150,000 and 19 larger ones.

Businesses were quick to take advantage of the program, and the funding ran out in less than two weeks. Eventually, another $310 billion was added.

Hansel said that while the program has been a big help for larger businesses that have a payroll to maintain, the self-employed and sole proprietors didn’t receive the same benefits.

“A couple of businesses I’ve been working with ... that don’t have any employees, they seem to have fallen through the cracks [until] the SELF program,” Hansel said, referencing a recent state initiative to provide relief to the self-employed. “So I’m hopeful the last couple [businesses] that I know were having problems accessing relief funds will be taken care of with this SELF program.”

The Paycheck Protection Program wasn’t the only avenue for New Hampshire businesses to get financial assistance after COVID-19-related losses. The Main Street Relief Fund, established by Gov. Chris Sununu in May, has provided $16.7 million in grants to 276 businesses in Cheshire County, according to data published by the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery.

The Keene Sentinel was awarded $41,299 through that fund.

Lawmakers are considering a new round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., was scheduled to be in Newport Monday to visit a trucking business that received funding and to highlight her support for additional money.

The application window for the Paycheck Protection Program was scheduled to expire at the end of June, but on Saturday, Trump signed a bill extending that until Aug. 8.

Hansel commended two smaller regional lenders, Lebanon-based Mascoma Bank and Savings Bank of Walpole, for wasting no time in helping local businesses get loans. Of the more than 1,500 loans made in the Monadnock Region, Mascoma Bank facilitated 205 and Savings Bank of Walpole arranged 404.

“We’re very lucky that our local banks ... were right on top of the PPP program,” Hansel said. “They did the businesses in the Monadnock Region a tremendous service by really leading the way there.”

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com.

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