More than 100 small businesses in Williamson County received approval for at least $26.6 million in forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program designed to help small businesses pay employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those numbers come from a recent Williamson Inc. survey. Last month, the chamber of commerce surveyed more than 200 local companies about their experience with the Paycheck Protection Program.

The vast majority of companies that responded to the survey had applied for funding through the federal aid program, and about 59% of those companies were approved for a loan. That number is similar to the 61% approval rate reported in a survey from the National Federation of Independent Business. 

Most of the companies that received a loan employ 10 people or fewer, and more than two thirds employ 20 people or fewer. Nearly 90% of companies that received a loan employ 50 people or fewer. 

The loans ranged from a low of $5,495 to a high of $8 million, but the median amount was $100,000.

The total amount that businesses received is likely higher. Of the 106 businesses that received funding, only 88 of those businesses reported how much they received.

“The PPP became a lifeline for the small business community in Williamson County. Our banks stepped up and provided exceptional service for our small businesses. I know that banks across the county worked until 1:00am in some cases to make sure they helped as many people as possible take advantage of this program,” Williamson Inc. CEO Matt Largen said, according to a press release.

Publicly traded banks in the Nashville area have loaned more than $3 billion to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The Memphis-based bank First Horizon has secured loans worth $282.5 million for more than 2,400 businesses in Middle Tennessee. Pinnacle Bank in Nashville secured loans for 5,100 small businesses, worth a total of $831 million. 

The Paycheck Protection Program provides forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loans are designed to help businesses meet payroll for a few months. If business owners use the cash for payroll or some other operating expenses like rent, the loans will be forgiven.  

The first round of funding for that program quickly ran out, but Congress recently approved a second round of funding to help more businesses. In all, the federal government has set aside more than $650 billion under the program.

In the first round, banks approved more than 34,000 loans for businesses in Tennessee, a total of about $6.5 billion. The second round provided funding for 41,000 more loans worth $2.4 billion.

The Small Business Administration is still accepting applications for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. 

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