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Health care, employment agencies largest local recipients of PPP loans

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | August 2, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — A review of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan data for Grant and Adams counties shows the largest Paycheck Protection Program loans in the region went to clinics, hospitals, farm employment agencies and large farms. But the loans helped other businesses, too.

Matt Moore, one of the co-owners of Moore Furniture in Ephrata, which took out a PPP loan in early 2020 of $151,400 for nine jobs, said the family company took out the loan to keep people on staff and because things were so uncertain early in the pandemic.

“We took it out right at the start, and we were not entirely sure if we were going to be closed or not,” Moore said.

Moore said the funds were especially crucial in helping to retain delivery drivers, who had to institute a number of new safety measures as they delivered furniture and appliances.

“We gave some pretty good raises to our delivery crew. They had to use protection and more care, and take care to make sure they were more careful,” Moore said.

While Moore said his company paid back some of the loan, the ProPublica website data lists the loan states as “forgiven as of Dec. 17, 2020.”

The PPP was initiated as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Air, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in late March 2020. The goal of the program was to cover a portion of payroll and business expenses for a period of between eight and 24 weeks to keep companies going and people on payrolls while businesses were shut down in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. Loans are eligible to be forgiven if at least 60% is spent on payroll and no employees are laid off or have their pay cut.

Two rounds of PPP loans were funded, one in 2020 and one in 2021, with a number of companies applying for and receiving two loans.

“The PPP is the biggest thing we’ve rolled out in the agency’s history,” said Melanie Norton, the deputy director of the SBA’s Seattle office. “It provides peace of mind to keep things moving, and that was the biggest thing that we heard from businesses.”

According to SBA data available at Federalpay.org, an informational website for U.S. government employees, the largest PPP loan in Grant County was $4.1 million, made to the Moses Lake Community Health Center in April 2020, followed by $3.8 million to REC Solar Silicon and then $1.8 million to D&L Holdco, owners of D&L Foundry on Road 3 Northeast.

According to the data, Moses Lake Community Health Center reported employing 312 people, REC reported 78 employees and D&L reported 171. All three loans are reported as having been forgiven, according to data available at the ProPublica website, which tracks the recipients and status of all loans over $150,000.

Both Federalpay and ProPublica analyzed publicly available data available that can be downloaded from the SBA’s website.

Other large recipients in the 98837 ZIP code (Moses Lake area) were Omni Staffing Services ($1.5 million for 179 jobs), Ag World Support Systems ($1.4 million for 169 jobs), Lad Irrigation Company ($1.1 million for 97 jobs) and employment agency R & SL Inc. ($1 million for 476 jobs).

As of the end of May 2021, the SBA loaned almost $800 billion nationwide — $277 billion in 2021 alone — to 11.8 million borrowers, and has so far forgiven $280 billion of those loans, according to SBA data.

In the Quincy area, the largest recipients were fruit processor Morgans of Washington ($2.1 million for 205 jobs), Stetner Electric ($2 million for 74 jobs) and consulting firm Above the Dirt ($1.6 million for 254 jobs).

In the Ephrata area, the largest recipients were Grant County Hospital District 3/Columbia Basin Hospital ($1.9 million for 145 jobs) and Willow Drive Nursery ($1.6 million for 137 job).

In Royal City, the two largest PPP recipients were Royal Ridge Fruit & Cold Storage ($1.3 million for 149 jobs) and Lawrence Orchards, which received two loans totaling $1.4 million for roughly 175 jobs.

In Warden, the two largest recipients were S & C Ranching ($1 million for 103 jobs) and Russet King Potato Company ($1 million for 159 jobs).

In Mattawa, the largest PPP recipients were vegetable and melon grower Del Christensen and Sons (applying as Tatoes LLC) which received two loans of roughly $940,000 each for a total of $1.8 million for roughly 80 jobs, and Sonrise Orchards, which also received two loans — $927,000 in 2021 and $815,000 in 2020 — for 135 jobs.

In Othello, the largest PPP recipient was Columbia Basin Health Association, which received a single loan for nearly $4 million for 373 jobs, Rangeview Ag Labor, which received two loans of around $1 million each for around 150 jobs, and Dorsing Farms, which received one loan for $1.4 million for 120 jobs.

Outside the bigger towns, the PPP loans got significantly smaller. In Soap Lake, the largest loan was made to McKay Healthcare and Rehabilitation/Public Hospital District 4 for $464,000 for 35 jobs. In Wilson Creek, no PPP loan over $40,000 was made.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.