The SBA data was released in two portions covering loans of less than $150,000 and loans of $150,000 and above. Information for the lower bracket included exact loan amounts, while business names were withheld; information within the higher bracket included business names across several ranges of loan amounts. Loan details included in this report cover all organizations that received loans throughout the eight ZIP codes within Community Impact Newspaper's Lake Conroe coverage area.
According to SBA data, 2,324 businesses in the Conroe, Montgomery and Willis areas received PPP loans of less than $150,000. The average loan was for just over $34,500.
Of the businesses that were given loans, the top industries include professional, scientific and technical services, which included 329 businesses, followed by businesses covering a variety of services outside public administration, construction, retail trade and health care and social assistance.
Businesses' industry sectors were identified based on their U.S. Census Bureau North American Industry Classification System codes.
The higher bracket, which details loans greater than $150,000, included 312 Lake Conroe-area businesses. The majority of these businesses received loans for between $150,000 and $350,000.
Only three businesses received loans from between $5 million and $10 million: Turbo Drill Industries Inc., Hempel USA Inc. and Southern Mail Service Inc. According to SBA, the loans to these three businesses saved 801 jobs. These jobs may not have been local.
The majority of the businesses that received larger loans were listed in the construction industry, followed by manufacturing, health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services and businesses covering a variety of services outside public administration.
Among the high-end recipients was nonprofit Interfaith of The Woodlands, which serves a large area in Montgomery County. The nonprofit received $833,000 in assistance and saved 125 jobs.
Interfaith CEO Missy Herndon said the money received went to cover salaries and benefits for staff, rent for the Interfaith Hand Me Up Shop and utilities.
"Before we received the Paycheck Protection Program, the entire organization was working full-time and on reduced pay," Herndon said. "We have a job, and our goal is to serve, especially in times of such high need."
Herndon said the program allowed Interfaith to return to full staff and resume paying full salaries and to ensure it could still operate for the community. Initially, positions had to be cut before the program was announced.
"Our staff cheered, particularly with the school, because our school was doing distance learning," Herndon said. "Without it, we would have had to keep staff reduced, and we would have had to eliminate additional positions and decrease services to the community. We had to cancel two of our major fundraisers, so we would have been in a very difficult situation."
Interfaith staff have been able to provide core services of food, shelter, clothing and crisis financial assistance to help keep people in their homes.
Todd Weaver, a managing partner of Woodson's Local Tap + Kitchen, which operates two locations—on FM 1488 in Conroe and Riley Fuzzel Road in Spring—said a PPP loan of between $350,000 and $1 million provided enough stability to retain all of the restaurant's nearly 150 employees. Still, the money did not alleviate all challenges associated with the pandemic and with the series of closure orders and capacity limits implemented this year.
"The way the PPP is set up, the majority of the funds go to our employees, and the rest were distributed to rent, taxes, and bills," Weaver said in an email. "The amount we got helped immensely with payroll, but as a business it didn't cover all of our expenses that hit while not making any income."
Weaver said Woodson's has not let any of its employees go during the spring or summer, and the two eateries remain open at 50% capacity. Even with the support of the loan, however, Weaver said the rest of this year remains uncertain for the restaurant.
"The PPP definitely helped us these past few months, and we are blessed we received help, but who is to say they don't change the forgiveness portion of these loans, and businesses are stuck with huge loans they can't pay due to our industry still being shut down?" he said. "Fifty percent is better than nothing, but it is very tough to even break even with that type of business."
The Montgomery County Food Bank was another local nonprofit to see its operations drastically change this year due to COVID-19.
Lindy Johnson, the organization's director of development, said uncertainty surrounding the availability of food shipments and increasing client demand in the spring led to a rise in distribution activity as well as concerns of possible layoffs or service reductions.
"We had approximately 24 employees at the beginning of 2020 and without the PPP loan we were looking at salary cuts or staff layoffs," Johnson said in an email. "The PPP loan allowed us to avoid these steps and maintain our entire team, which was essential for us to meet the need of our regular clients as well as the thousands of new clients affected by the crisis."
Johnson said the loan, which was in the $150,000-$350,000 range, covered operational and salary needs for eight weeks. According to the SBA, the loan was approved April 8, and Johnson said the food bank received its check April 18.
Johnson said the food bank expects to continue providing pantry items in the community this year as needed, although future supply concerns and a need for volunteers to assist with food distribution remain.
Those interested in supporting the nonprofit can sign up for volunteer positions or contribute to its virtual food drive through the organization's website.