Top 1 percent of Paycheck Protection Program loans in NC account for a quarter of all loan value

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Jeff Scoras applied for a loan of about $10,000 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to help keep five workers on the payroll at his door-to-door solar energy business in Apex.

He was shocked at how much money was directly deposited into the account: 65 bucks.

“I was a little bit like, ‘Really?’ Like, why even give me any money at all?” Scoras told CBS17.com. “Sixty-five dollars isn’t nearly going to do anything for me.”

The federal government released more data this week on the PPP loans designed to help small businesses keep paying their workers after widespread shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The details, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit by nearly a dozen media outlets, included the specific dollar amounts of each loan and identified the businesses receiving loans of less than $150,000. Those businesses were not identified in the Small Business Administration’s previous data dump in July.

A CBS17.com review found more than 127,000 businesses in North Carolina were listed as having received loans totaling $12.1 billion, with 87 percent of those loans — nearly 110,000 in all — for sums less than $150,000.

But those loans add up to just 30 percent of the total dollar figure awarded, $3.7 billion.

The top 1 percent of loans account for roughly $3.2 billion — or, more than a quarter of all loan value. Half of the money went to just 4.5 percent of recipients.

On that list are companies like FastMed Urgent Care, Biscuitville and Raleigh-based Golden Corral, which did not return a message seeking comment from CBS17.com.

The data also shows how many jobs would be retained with those loans, and Duke finance professor David Robinson says there was a strong correlation between the number of jobs retained and the sizes of the loans, with larger businesses with more employees frequently receiving larger loans.

“To me, this looks like evidence that the more money you borrowed, the more jobs you held onto,” he said.

A dozen companies in North Carolina were listed as receiving the maximum loan amount — $10 million — including five in the CBS 17 viewing area: EmergeOrtho P.A. in Durham, Spectraforce Technologies in Raleigh, J.F. Acquisition in Morrisville, FastMed in Clayton and Boddie-Noell Enterprises LLC in Rocky Mount.

Of those, four said the maximum of 500 jobs would be retained. J.F. Acquisition listed no jobs retained, and company representatives did not return a phone call from CBS17.com seeking an explanation.

At the other end of the spectrum, 15 companies were listed as received loans of less than $100.

That includes Scoras’ company, Sunstream Solar. He said it was down to two employees, both of whom have other full-time jobs. He had hoped to use a loan of between $10,000 and $12,000 to keep the other three employees and generate leads for the business.

“Kind of like a slap in the face,” he said.

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