The Wigwam in Litchfield Park

The Wigwam in Litchfield Park received at least $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding, protecting more than 250 jobs.

In a massive effort to keep employers writing paychecks during the pandemic, the federal government pumped more than $200 million into car dealers, restaurants, churches, private schools, contractors and other West Valley businesses in a loan-forgiveness program. 

Going out to dairies, car dealers, restaurants, churches and other businesses, the funds were to be used to protect at least 35,000 jobs—and avoid mass layoffs—as the economy reeled during the first months of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Records released by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier this month show details of the funding by the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Nationally, the program gushed out $520 billion to 5 million businesses.

Businesses who maintain full employment will not have to pay back the loans. 

According to PPP guidelines: “Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”

And there may be more money headed this way, as the PPP, which launched in April, resumed accepting applications from early July through Saturday, Aug. 8.

In the West Valley (Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Tolleson and Tolleson), 199 companies received PPP loans of at least $150,000.

Another 1,922 West Valley businesses were granted loans between $44,000 and $147,000. The under-$150,000 category totals $154 million. 

The SBA did not identify the entities that each borrowed less than $150,000, but included the names and addresses of those that borrowed $150,000 or more. Both categories show the number of the companies’ employees.

At the higher end, the SBA was not specific in the loan amount, listing recipients only within one of five categories of loan ranges: $150,000 to $350,000, $350,000 to $1 million, $1 milion to $2 million, $2 million to $5 million and $5 million to $10 million.

The highest category PPP funds in the West Valley total at least $24 million.

In the penultimate $2-million-to-$5-million category: The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, which saved up to 367 jobs; Tolleson’s Thermo King; Contracted Driver Services in Goodyear, with 500 jobs; Duncan Trucking Company in Buckeye, with 386 employees; and Austin Electric (275 jobs), Burger King franchise owner Barnett/Taylor Restaurants (500 jobs) and Macpie LLC/Avondale Toyota (168 jobs), all in Avondale.

West Valley companies that received loans between $1 million and $2 million: CDG Automotive/Avondale Nissan, Earnhardt Automotive, Gateway Chevrolet and weight-loss company Possible Pat, all in Avondale; Butterfield Dairy in Buckeye; Rodeo Ford and Yates Buick GMC in Goodyear; and Tolleson’s Legends Furniture, trucking company the Barlow Company, Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona, and Western AG.

Others receiving loans greater than $150,000: King Koil, TJ’s Homestyle Restaurant and PT Pho Express in Avondale; Ambian, Piazzo, Triple-G,  Rainbow Valley and Sunrise dairies, Filberto’s Mexican Food and Tom Jones Ford in Buckeye; Incito Schools, Saddle Mountain Brewing Company and Skyway Apostolic Center in Goodyear; Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Crown Charter School and Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park; and Elgin Tree Farm and Westside Subs in Tolleson.

Sixty-eight West Valley businesses received loans between $350,000 and $1 million. Another 110 landed loans in the $150,000-to-$350,000 range.

The top tier of PPP loan recipients in the West Valley employs 11,029 people.

PPP loans under $150,000 potentially saved 24,000 West Valley jobs.

The PPP loan funds—described by the SBA as “a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll”—are part of the $2 trillion pandemic relief package approved by Congress in March that also included other assistance to individuals, businesses, and local and state governments.

PPP loans are aimed at preserving jobs by helping borrowers maintain their payroll and stay afloat by using some of the money for rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

Arizona’s share of the PPP money is between $6.5 billion and $12.5 billion.

While some wanted more details in the loan recipient data, lobbyists for organizations like the National Federation of Independent Business were reported to be concerned that businesses would be hurt competitively or subjected to “public shaming” if identities were disclosed.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the way the loan data was released “strikes the appropriate balance of providing the American people with transparency, while protecting sensitive payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors and independent contractors.”