14 New Hampshire firms received biggest allowable Paycheck Protection loans

SBA reveals names of firms that got largest amounts

Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application FormA McDonald’s franchise owner based in Amherst, a corporate jet company in Portsmouth, a software construction firm in Nashua and six healthcare providers were among the recipients of the 14 largest Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans in New Hampshire State, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

So far, the SBA has approved $521 billion in forgivable loans to nearly 5 million businesses across the country, including more than $2.5 billion to 23,500 companies in the Granite State. But until Monday it would not reveal who received the money, though some publicly traded companies did disclose their participation through federal filings, sparking outrage, since the program was supposed to be aimed at smaller companies, or at least those with fewer than 500 employees.

After a number of media organizations filed Freedom of Information Act requests (including one from NH Business Review) and follow-up lawsuits, the agency released a list of more than 661,000 of the recipients that got over $150,000, while keeping the rest secret.

But it did not reveal exactly how much those companies got. Instead, it provided five loan-size ranges. Nearly 5,000 U.S. companies were in the highest range, from $5 million to $10 million; in New Hampshire 14 received such loans.

Another 113 companies got $2 to $5 million and 238 companies (including Yanking Publishing Inc., owner of NH Business Review) got $1 million to $2 million.

The other ranges were $350,000 to $1 million and $150,000 to $350,000.

On the other hand, more than 20,000 New Hampshire companies received less than $150,000 (the SBA released list with the size of the loan, municipality and type of business, but not the actual name of the business). Those loans totaled $750 million, about 30% of the loan total for the entire state.

Main Street program

The whole idea behind the PPP was to preserve jobs. Under revised rules, the loans won’t be forgiven unless 60% is spent on payroll. However, it was the under-$150,000 loans that retained nearly 80,000 jobs in New Hampshire, while the larger ones only preserved about half of that, 38,000, according to the data. Still, that’s slightly more jobs than those collecting unemployment at the peak of this crisis. In other words, without PPP, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate could have been twice of bad.

But it is not clear whether the PPP actually preserved all those jobs, since even if the companies laid off people, forgoing forgiveness on some of the loan, they have five years to pay that amount back with a 1% interest rate.

Coincidentally, the New Hampshire Main Street Relief Program disclosed the identities of its recipients at the end of last week. That state-run grant program, conceived to fill some of the losses not covered by the PPP, was aimed at smaller businesses, those with less then $20 million in revenues, and the grants were capped at $350,000, with no mandate to spend that on payroll.

Over 200 businesses received that top amount, but the state listed all of the program’s 5,000 recipients, and the amount received to the penny, including one, a Concord martial arts business, which got a grant of $7.38.

Top recipients

Unlike the Main Street Relief Program, nonprofits and healthcare providers were eligible for PPP loans, and six of the top recipients were hospitals, including Androscoggin Hospital in Berlin, Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro and Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth.

Microdesk, in Nashua, a construction software and consulting firm also received one of the largest loans. It employs 300 people, including 215 consultants who work directly on projects. Half of them were idle after the pandemic hit. The company used its PPP funds to keep them on the payroll, allowing them to work on developing their skills until business picked up. And after a rough May, it did, though CEO Mike DeLacey was concerned that the virus resurgence could slow things down again in July.

“The PPP was important because it allowed people to stay employed, to make sure we can reopen as quickly as we shut down,” said DeLacey.

Select Demo Services, a construction firm in Salem, also received a larger loan.

Calls were not returned by deadline, but the company’s website boasts $125 million in annual sales, and the data said the funds preserved 341 jobs. New England Finish Systems, another Salem construction firm, used its loan to preserve 325 jobs.

McDonald’s, of course, employs much many more than 500 people, but many of its franchisees don’t, including Napoli PSC Series, based in Amherst, which answers the phone, “McDonald’s.” It’s not clear how many stores it owns, but Napoli Group LLC5, which is listed at the same address in Amherst, also got a PPP loan in the $350,000 to $1 million range. Oddly, the former group with the larger loan retained no jobs, according to the data, while the latter retained 46.

Napoli did not respond to NH Business Review’s inquiries at deadline.

The database also doesn’t indicate how many jobs PlaneSense retained.

The Portsmouth-based company sells fractional shares of private jets. Back in 2017, the company’s CEO, George Antoniadis, told NH Business Review that the company contributed about $27 million to the state’s economy, including $1.25 million in registration fees alone. Antoniadis also couldn’t be reached by deadline, but in March, as the pandemic crisis unfurled, he was interviewed by ChiefExecutive.com about the lessons learned during the last recession.

“First, you’ve got to know that cash is king; and in the end, that’s what counts,” he said, though he added that retaining your personnel is also key.

Another aviation company, Air General Inc., an air cargo firm in Portsmouth, retained about 500 jobs, according to the SBA’s database. It too could not be reached by deadline.

Other recipients of the largest loans were:

Air General Inc., Portsmouth, which retained 500 jobs; Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association Inc., Concord; 395 jobs; Eastern Propane Gas Inc., Rochester, number of jobs not available; Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, Manchester, N/A; Riverbend Community Mental Health Inc., Concord, 341; The Granite Group Wholesalers LLC, 500.

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