LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a proverbial lifesaver thrown to small businesses, and the majority of them in Kentucky latched on.
Figures released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) show more than 48,000 or three-quarters of all eligible Kentucky small businesses took advantage of the PPP. What it also shows is the bulk of that money went to only 13% of those businesses.
The biggest loan recipients for the state include five Lexington-based businesses. All of them receiving between $5-10 million. Those businesses include Blue Diamond Mining, mining company Ramaco Resources which has mines only active in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington.
Some of the most notable names receiving upwards of $1 million, according to the SBA, are Morgan and Morgan's Lexington office, car dealerships such as Don Jacobs and Paul Miller Ford, and Bluegrass Hospitality Group, the company behind local Lexington restaurants such as Malone's and Drake's.
Of that $1 million and up bracket, there are at least 100 non-profits that received big loans. Those include numerous local private schools and universities like Centre College and Transylvania University, Southland Christian Church and community resources like the Kentucky Blood Center, Community Action Council and YMCA.
In total, the report states just under 600,000 jobs were retained thanks to the PPP.
On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell, who helped orchestrate the CARES Act, visited Isaiah House in Willisburg.
Thanks to the PPP loan, the non-profit was able to continue paying its employees and help Kentuckians in their recovery from addiction during the economic shutdown.
That's why the senator said the CARES Act was important. The billions loaned helped countless small non-profits and locally owned businesses. It also helped plenty of bigger businesses.
Some small local business owners feel not enough was left over to help everybody.
"And us little folks, we got shut out. We could've used the assistance more than these multi-million dollar organizations that have 500, 600 plus employees and staffing," Red River Adventure owner Ernie Braden said.
The pandemic shut down Braden's seasonal business in the Gorge during busy season. He also didn't receive any small business loans, and he had let go of his staff. When he and his wife reopened Red River Adventure during Memorial Day weekend, he had to hire an almost entirely new staff.
"Any kind of assistance would've helped us get through it. We of course, dipped into our savings, but we got through it," said Braden.
When we spoke with Illustration Salon Co-owner Chavon Sanford last month, she said as an independent contractor, she struggled receiving aid. But friends helped them survive the shutdown.
"Some people donated hand sanitizer, disinfectant stuff, anything we needed so that we could get open," said Sanford back in June 2020.
Taye Napier opened Clay Fitness Center last year to help give the community in Clay County another positive place to expend energy. But since the pandemic spread, he says he's lost around $30,000.
He applied for assistance and did get some help.
"When we received the loan, it was just for $1000. Which covered the electric bill for maybe two and a half weeks," said Napier.
The gym reopened about a month ago, and Napier says business has picked up better than he thought.
"Six employees right now, and that's including a couple of trainers. So we're just doing what we have to do to stay afloat," said Napier.
That's what many business owners are doing right now, just trying to stay afloat.
He and many others are hoping that the steps all of us in Kentucky have taken will slow the spread enough that we can avoid another shutdown.
Editors Note: In a previous version of this story, LEX 18 News reported that Blue Diamond Industries was one of five Lexington-based businesses that took advantage of the PPP and received between $5-10 million. It was actually Blue Diamond Mining. We regret the error.