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December 3, 2020

These two Central Mass. firms received the maximum $10M PPP loan

Photo | Grant Welker A Panera Bread on Gold Star Boulevard in Worcester. The location's franchisee, PR Restaurants of Framingham, received $10 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding, the maximum amount.

The U.S. Small Business Administration late Tuesday released new data on the $523-billion Paycheck Protection Program, for the first time detailing how much individual recipients received from the federal aid program meant to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Two Central Massachusetts firms received the maximum of $10 million: Sweeney Drywall Finishes Corp. of Boxborough and PR Restaurants of Framingham, a Panera Bread franchisee with 61 New England locations. Assumption University in Worcester, Quiet Logistics in Devens and 16 others were given at least $5 million.

Businesses and nonprofits were eligible for the PPP loans if they have 500 or fewer employees, and some Central Massachusetts recipients claimed the PPP funds would save essentially their entire payroll. That includes PR Restaurants and Quiet Logistics, which both said the funds would retain exactly 500 jobs. Nine others in Central Massachusetts said the same. The loans are semi-forgivable, depending on how recipients spent the money, particularly if they used it to keep staff employed.

The data was released after The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based non-partisan, nonprofit journalism outlet, sued in June for the additional information. A federal judge ordered in early November for the U.S. Small Business Administration to release the exact amount of money given to recipients of $150,000 or more. Until then, those recipients were described only in ranges: $5 million to $10 million, for example.

[Click here to view details on all 300-plus Central Massachusetts recipients of $1 million or more]

The new data solidifies while most loans went to smaller recipients, the largest companies took in a major share of the $523 billion distributed in the pandemic relief program. Nearly 2,400 recipients in Massachusetts took in at least $1 million, including 142 that got $5 million or more. In all, 15 got the maximum of $10 million.

An analysis by The New York Times found the top 1% of recipients nationally took in a quarter of all funding, even though loans of $250,000 or less made up 92% of all loans given.

The new data adds to reams of information already produced about which entities got funds, and in many cases, how many jobs they claimed the money saved. Most include whether the entity's owner is minority, female or veteran. The Worcester Business Journal published a series of stories from May to August based on an analysis of PPP data.

Among other findings:

  • Only two named recipients who identified as Black-owned businesses in Central Massachusetts were among the nearly 18,000 local businesses who received loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Those were the only two to receive more than $150,000. Another 33 Black-owned businesses received less than that amount, or roughly 2% of those who identified the race of their owner.
  • When Central Massachusetts businesses turned to banks for help applying for federal loans for coronavirus pandemic relief, they often skipped over local lenders in favor of national and larger options based outside the region. Those larger banks were chosen most often for the program's biggest loans. Central Massachusetts businesses received 124 loans of $2 million or more from the Paycheck Protection Program to help keep them afloat and their workers on the job. Of those, 32 were processed through Central Massachusetts-based banks or credit unions. Among Central Massachusetts-based banks, Avidia Bank of Hudson and Middlesex Savings Bank of Natick provided by far the most loans.
  • Central Massachusetts recipients estimated PPP funds helped them retain what they estimate is roughly 148,000 jobs. In Worcester, an estimated nearly 24,000 workers were saved from being laid off, with some disclosing only a single saved employee, or not specifying at all. In Framingham, that number was more than 10,000.
  • Almost 350 Central Massachusetts recipients got at least $1 million. Of those, 18 received between $5 million and $10 million, and another 116 received between $2 million and $5 million.
  • The Central Massachusetts services sector, a broad industry ranging from lawyers to graphic design, brought in more federal Paycheck Protection Program loans related to the coronavirus pandemic than any other: about 15%. Health care and social assistance, the area's largest industry by number of employees, received just over 10% of local loans. Manufacturing, the biggest industry by gross domestic product, brought in just under 7%.
  • Hospitals and other healthcare centers in Central Massachusetts have received nearly $139 million in coronavirus-related funding. Among them, UMass Memorial Medical Center has received $52 million, and Saint Vincent Hospital has gotten nearly $20 million.
  • Colleges in Central Massachusetts received nearly $33 million in federal aid under a separate arm of the same federal program, which was primarily aimed at providing emergency aid for students. Among Central Massachusetts colleges, Quinsigamond Community College was the biggest recipient at more than $4.8 million. Worcester State University got more than $4.2 million.
  • More than 2,000 federal loans were given to Worcester businesses to help survive through the coronavirus pandemic, from as small as $197 to as much as $7.5 million.

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