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Jefferson City businesses received nearly $200 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, records from the U.S. Small Business Administration show.

The program, which disbursed $800 billion nationally, stopped taking applications May 31. PPP funds were intended to help self-employed workers and businesses needing to keep employees on payroll through pandemic-influenced financial strain, though the money could also be used to pay mortgages, rent, utilities, or uninsured property damage costs from looting and vandalism. If a business keeps its employment and pay level and puts at least 60 percent of the loan toward payroll, the SBA said it will forgive those loans.

Just more than 3,000 loans were issued to businesses with addresses in Jefferson City, with a total of approximately $192 million in approved funds.

Those disbursements came in two waves, the latter of which required businesses to show at least a 25 percent reduction in gross revenue from 2019-20, said Leslie Tanner, vice president of commercial loans and a commercial lender at Central Bank.

Central Bank handled many local applications for PPP loans, and Tanner said the entire program went smoothly, especially the more targeted second round.

"It honed in on who was closed, who had a reduction to revenues," she said. "I think they kind of hit the nail on the head with that one as well."

Tanner said the program's May 31 wrap-up came at a good time — not just because of vaccination-boosted recovery around the country, but for getting more businesses opportunities to apply for PPP funds.

"We're very pleased with the way it wrapped up," Tanner said. "Because it ended in May, it allowed a lot of people to submit PPP applications using their 2020 tax returns that their accountants did for them. They may not have known about the program, so the accountants were just sending us referrals all the time because they were right from the customer doing their tax return. And, of course, that tax return information is our source document to calculate the loan amount."

Applications continued coming in through Central Bank "right up to the end," she said.

Riley Chevrolet, for example, leveraged the two rounds, receiving just more than $1 million in April of last year and another $1.1 million at the end of March this year.

The Missouri branches of the AFL-CIO and the National Education Association and the Missouri Soybean Association were among entities that didn't apply for the first round until 2021.

Across both opportunities, Jefferson City Medical Group was the recipient of the largest benefit, receiving nearly $7.2 million in its only loan.

Other businesses that received at least $1 million between both rounds: B&R Food Service, C&S Business Services, C&S Staffing Solutions, Community Health Center of Central Missouri, DeLong's, Diversified Industrial Mechanical Contractors, Graves Investment Co., contractor Harold G. Butzer, Huber & Associates, the Jefferson City Area YMCA, Joe Machens Capital City Ford, Metal Culverts, Meyer Electric Company, Missouri Builders Service, Modern Litho, Piney Woods Sanitation, Riley Brothers Motors, Schneider Electric, Schrimpf Landscaping, TRK Valpo and Twehous Excavating Co.

Central Missouri Newspapers Inc. — the publisher of the Jefferson City News Tribune, Fulton Sun and California Democrat — was approved to receive $819,200. CMNI's owner, Arkansas-based WEHCO Media, was approved to receive $818,000. Individual WEHCO-owned newspapers and other corporate divisions also received PPP loans of their own; company Chairman Walter E. Hussman said in May 2020 that WEHCO Media would receive a total of $12.3 million between its 21 separate companies.

The forgiveness process has gone well, Tanner said, and Central Bank has only about 10 left from the first round. In the next three years, however, those forgivenesses may be reviewed — a process Tanner said Central Bank will help recipients with.

And some opportunities for more aid are still open, like the Small Business Administration's Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Those programs won't operate as closely with lenders like Central Bank, Tanner said, but she's still willing to help.

"We still got the information out to our customers," Tanner said.

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