North Country businesses taking advantage of 2nd round of PPP loans

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 6:49 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:26 PM EST
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ALTONA, N.Y. (WCAX) - Thousands of businesses forced to modify operations because of the coronavirus are looking for another lifeline from the Paycheck Protection Program. The federal loans are meant to pay bills and keep workers on the job until business gets back to normal. Kelly O’Brien spoke to one New York business owner benefiting from the program.

The federal loans are mostly for payroll, but changes were made in the latest round of funding to help smaller businesses benefit. Brannoin Sample, an Altona business owner that qualified for both rounds, says the funds are helpful but not a cure. He runs the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall. “This is the party capital of the great Northeast is what we like to say,” he said.

Over the last year, large gatherings weren’t considered safe. Businesses canceled their holiday parties and the venue hosted only 11 weddings that were capped at 50 people. “We do an average of about 50 weddings per year,” Sample said.

He says he sought out loans like the Paycheck Protect Program to keep the lights on and his four full-time employees working. “The way the PPP money is calculated is based on your payroll,” said Sample. “So, we didn’t get as much money as some would think, however it all adds up certainly.”

Sample is one of the 250 businesses that got a cut of the $25 million in PPP loans from Champlain National Bank last year. The small bank says it’s on track to give that out again this year. “Just as what we’ve reviewed and know from those applications were over $14 million and we’ve already closed and gotten out over $5 million,” said Steve Cacchio, the bank’s president.

He says this round of loans is all about helping the little guy. In order for the loan to be forgiven, a business needs to prove it took a 25% loss compared to 2019/2020, that it employs fewer than 300 people, and that 60% percent of the loan goes to payroll. “A majority of the first ones that we started in that process were forgiven, so we anticipate that to be the case,” Cacchio said.

Sample says he’s making the best of a bad situation and that switched the emphasis at his venue from parties to fine dining. “This is a people gathering location and we feel confident we can do it in a safe manner,” he said. “So it only made sense to open up our new Brookside Barn as a restaurant.”

Champlain National Bank says they will continue to take PPP applications for until the end of March.

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Will the Paycheck Protection Program help businesses survive?

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