PPP loans pay out big for Central Texas businesses

Hundreds got $150,000-plus during pandemic
Posted at 9:49 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 00:21:39-04

Ask any business what PPP stands for these days, and chances are good they can explain it after trying to stay afloat during a pandemic.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program was billed as a must-do program for small businesses hit hard when COVID-19 forced sudden closures and lockdowns in March.

According to data released this week by the U.S. Treasure Department, more than 50,000 Texas companies got at least $150,000 through the program.

At least 460 of those businesses are from Waco, Temple and Killeen.

“People probably would be surprised to find out so many loans are of a larger magnitude," said Dr. Rob Tennant, an Assistant Professor of Economics at A&M Central Texas.

At least two local companies are listed as receiving between $5 million to $10 million dollars from the program. Dozens more received between $1 million to $2 million. The local majority fall somewhere under a million, but above the $150,000 threshold.

The majority of the loans were supposed to be used to keep on employees.

"There are a lot of businesses that have several hundred employees that might not have as deep as pockets as you think," said Tennant. "It's hard to wrap our head around."

The list includes law firms, car dealerships, big restaurants, distilleries, nonprofits, private schools and churches.

There are names Central Texans will no doubt recognize, too, like Waco Tours or the Hippodrome Theatre, which both got loans of $150,000 to $350,000 to retain employees and help offset the slowdown.

Sen. John Cornyn, a longtime Republican on Capitol Hill, pushed aggressively for the program and says it did its job.

“We threw everything we could at it," Cornyn told 25 News this week.

But he acknowledged that larger entities across the country, and even here in Texas, weren't necessarily the intended target when Congress acted so quickly in late March.

“It’s a separate question whether some people got the money who didn't need the money, thus depriving the mom and pops from getting it," said Cornyn.

Thousands of local business also got loans smaller than $150,000, but the feds won’t name them.

Dr. Tennant thinks a lot of those are the "mom and pop" establishments, like a restaurant or local shop.

“That [money] can be the difference between staying open and not staying open," he said.

For a complete list of business by state and amount, click here. You will need Microsoft Excel to view the data.