The Roots Saved 60 Jobs. Geno's Steaks Saved 38. How Pandemic Loans Impacted Region

More than 47,000 businesses and nonprofits in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, from large construction companies and schools to museums and restaurants, borrowed at least $150,000 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to new data.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art was able to save, for now, 478 jobs because of a $5-10 million loan provided by the massive federal stimulus in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak.

KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy, a charter school in Camden, New Jersey, saved 202 jobs through a loan of $1-2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks both received PPP loans between $150,000 and $350,000. In each case, the federal government will forgive the loans if certain criteria are met.

In total, PPP loans helped save more than 2.1 million jobs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, according to data released this week by the U.S. Treasury Department and analyzed by NBC Owned Television Stations. The data only lists loans of more than $150,000 and up to $10 million. Information about tens of thousands of additional PPP loans below that threshold was not released.

It remains unclear how accurate the number of jobs saved is, however. Thousands of the businesses and nonprofits in the database have "jobs retained" entries that include either 0 or "not available."

For instance, Pat's King of Steaks was listed with a 0 for jobs retained. The steak shop's owner, Frank Olivieri, disputed that number when asked Thursday.

"I definitely took it to aid me in paying my employees," he said. "We had before the COVID outbreak 26 to 27 employees. Before we got our PPP loan, we were down 65-75% business at the window, so we had employees voluntarily go on unemployment. I didn’t lay anyone off. But with paying the 17 to 20 employees that remained, I am benefitting from the loan."

He says he doesn't know why his business has a 0 jobs retained next to its name. The U.S. Treasury Department's press office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Overall, more than 47,000 businesses and nonprofits in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware received PPP loans in April and May, the data shows.

The $350 billion program was approved by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, the stimulus package initiated to help prop up the economy during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. All businesses and nonprofits with less than 500 employees were able to apply for a loan of up to $10 million. The loans were seen as a lifeline for millions of jobs because the federal government will forgive them if companies follow certain criteria in how the money is spent.

“The PPP is providing much-needed relief to millions of American small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs and over 80 percent of all small business employees, who are the drivers of economic growth in our country,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said when the data was released.

The main criteria is that companies and nonprofits must spend at least 60% of the loan on employees' pay. The rest must be spent on expenses including leases, utilities and mortgage payments.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will oversee the process of forgiving loans. Any unforgiven portions would carry a 1% interest rate and come due within two years. 

The loans went to entities and organizations representing virtually every sector of the three states' economies.

Large and small law firms, construction contractors, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, corner lunch cafes, rural roadside bars, restaurant empires, laboratories, charter and religious schools and cheesesteak joints all received PPP loans.

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Geno's Steaks, The Roots' Questlove and Black Thought and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Here is a sampling of the thousands of businesses that received loans and the jobs retained, according to the Treasury Department:

  • Vetri Restaurants and Vetri Management: Each of the Philadelphia restaurateur's businesses received between $350,000 and $1 million, and saved a combined 92 jobs.
  • The Roots on Tour: The Bala Cynwyd-based business entity behind Philadelphia's most famous band received between $350,000 and $1 million, and saved 60 jobs.
  • Shriver's Salt Water Taffy and Fudge: The Ocean City boardwalk shop received between $150,000 and $350,000 and saved 23 jobs.
  • Cape Trinity Catholic: The elementary school that belongs to the Diocese of Camden received between $350,000 and $1 million, and saved 102 jobs.
  • Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5/Philadelphia Police Home Association: The police union received between $350,000 and $1 million, saving 42 jobs, and a related foundation took out between $150,000 and $350,000 and saved 143 jobs.

Nationally, the PPP gave out more than 4.9 million forgivable loans, according to the Treasury Department.

"Today’s release of loan data strikes the appropriate balance of providing the American people with transparency, while protecting sensitive payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors," Mnuchin said.

Some news organizations have sued the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration for a release of the thousands of additional loans of less than $150,000. The average loan, the Treasury Department says, was about $100,000.

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