As Congress continues to debate a new round of economic stimulus for individuals and businesses, the data released earlier this month on the year’s first round of payouts to businesses paints a clearer picture than ever about how much Oklahoma businesses and nonprofits received.
Oklahoma businesses received more than $7.5 billion in federal and state aid this year to help offset the economic damage caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by The Frontier.
On Dec. 2, the U.S. Small Business Administration released data on exact amounts businesses received earlier this year through the federally-funded Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and EIDL Advance funds, after The Washington Post, ProPublica, The New York Times, and other media outlets and organizations successfully sued for the release of the complete data.
Though SBA had released PPP recipient data earlier this year, it only included ranges of amount received rather than exact amounts, and companies that got less than $150,000 in PPP funds were excluded from the data.
In addition, the state has released information on businesses that received money through its Business Relief Program, which is funded by federal money through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Another state program that aided businesses, such as the Manufacturing Reboot Program, was paid for through the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund.
Most of the money received by businesses came in the form of the federal Paycheck Protection Program — a federal stimulus program through the U.S. Small Business Administration approved Congress and President Donald Trump earlier this year to provide businesses up to $10 million in funds — that was responsible for $5.4 billion in Oklahoma business aid. The loans are forgivable if employee retention criteria and expense eligibility were met.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which offers low-interest business loans up to six months’ worth of working capital for a business and deferred the first payment for up to one year, provided nearly $1.7 billion in aid to Oklahoma businesses, according to the data. The records show that as of November, more than $63 million in EIDL funds had been paid back by more than 1,000 Oklahoma businesses.
A second SBA EIDL program, EIDL Advance, which provided up to $10,000 in emergency grant money to small businesses with no repayment requirement, accounted for around $161 million to Oklahoma businesses, the data shows.
Federal funds directed through the State of Oklahoma’s Business Relief Program accounted for $143 million in funds, according to data released by the state. Businesses eligible for the program could receive up to $25,000 in funds under the grant program.
Finally, Oklahoma manufacturers received nearly $3 million from the state’s Manufacturing Reboot Program, funded through the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund.
Taken together, the data shows that more than $7.4 billion in federal and state aid has gone to Oklahoma businesses since the beginning of the pandemic early this year, not counting municipal and county assistance programs to businesses.
The data shows that five Oklahoma businesses received the maximum $10 million in PPP funds — LSB Industries Inc. (Oklahoma City), The Bama Companies Inc. (Tulsa), Zeeco Inc. (Broken Arrow), Homeland supermarkets (Oklahoma City) and Latshaw Drilling Company in Tulsa, which got an additional $10,000 in EIDL Advance funds.
Frontier Media Group received $46,700 in PPP funds.
The newly-released PPP data also puts an exact amount on funds received by businesses connected to two of the state’s Congressmen — Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville).
Hern’s KTAK company, which owns several McDonald’s franchises, received a total of $1,073,328 in PPP funds. Custom Seating of Muskogee, which is partially owned by Hern’s wife Tammy Hern, received $804,266 in PPP, $25,000 in Oklahoma Business Relief Program funds and $1,000 in EIDL Advance funds. A second company in which Tammy Hern has a 30 percent ownership stake in, Indigo Technology, received a $126,500 EIDL Loan, $5,000 in EIDL Advance funds and $43,500 in PPP funds, the data shows.
Hern, who sits on the House Small Business Committee, had pushed prior to the passage of the first round of PPP loans to make it easier for franchises to receive a portion of the small business aid.
Companies owned by Mullin, the PPP data shows, received a total of $1.4 million in PPP funds, according to the data — $281,900 to Mullin Plumbing West, $169,200 to Mullin Environmental, $706,800 to Mullin Plumbing, and $290,500 to Mullin Services.
Earlier this year, both Hern and Mullin voted against a bill that would have required the SBA to make public the rational behind PPP disbursements and the number of employees a business receiving PPP has.
Neither Hern’s nor Mullin’s office responded to requests by The Frontier for comment on the PPP funds and Congressional negotiations on a new round of aid.
For months, negotiations in Congress on a new round of aid, both to individuals and businesses, have been stalled by partisan bickering, though Congressional leaders said they may have something by the end of this week.
The economic effects of the pandemic are not evenly distributed across Oklahoma’s economy, said Mike Neal, CEO of the Greater Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. While homebuilders, car dealerships, liquor stores and some in the manufacturing industry have been able to weather the storm, industries such as retail, energy, aerospace, entertainment and hospitality industries continue to struggle, as the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma continues to rise far above the levels seen earlier this year.
“It’s all over the place,” Neal said. “You’ve got some businesses that are suffering tremendously and having a horrible year, you’ve got others who are as close as they can to maintaining the status quo, you’ve got some … who are tremendously hurting.”
Without the federal and state aid that have flowed into businesses since this spring, the situation would have been much worse, Neal said.
“The federal and state aid that have come down this past year has been tremendously helpful to business, especially the small businesses,” he said. “It has been so very much appreciated and valued by our local and regional business community.”
Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said many of the smallest businesses, including minority-owned businesses, have been hit the hardest.
“There’s obviously been a lot of disruption of businesses of any size, but it especially pointed out the fragility of our smallest businesses that really make up the texture of our community — service industry, retail, restaurants — those things people know your community for,” Seymour said. “In general, I think there’s still a lot of fragility in that space, and I think we’re all crossing our fingers to see what the new aid package looks like.”
As the pandemic has stretched on, the first round of aid has long been spent, and business leaders are hoping to see Congress act quickly for a new round for both individuals and businesses, Neal said.
“It would probably be safe to say the local economy is tremendously varied. It’s doing far better than any of us anticipated it would be in the midst of a global pandemic. This pandemic, however, is lasting far longer than anybody thought it would,” Neal said. “When COVID first hit in March, we thought it might be here for a couple months. Eight months later it’s still here and it may be another six or nine months before it begins to return to normal.”