A much higher percentage of Wellesley businesses and nonprofits took advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program than did businesses across the state as a whole, according to numbers released this month by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
Some 57% of about 1,500 establishments in town were approved for a total of 851 loans, which are administered by the Small Business Administration and are designed mainly to help small businesses retain employees. Across the state, about 46% of businesses were approved through July.
Nearby, more than 63% of Needham businesses got PPP loans, and just over half of Newton businesses did, according to the Newton Needham Regional Chamber. Most businesses and nonprofits have already used up their funds and would love a shot at more in light of the pandemic’s persistence, according to the Chamber. PPP loan applications were curtailed as of Aug. 8.
According to the data for Wellesley, which we broke out in the spreadsheet below, the loans helped to fund some 8,300 jobs in town, with an average of 12 employees but as high as 435. Businesses secured loans, which may or may not need to be repaid, ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Numerous lenders, from Needham Bank to Bank of America, handled the loans.
From what some Wellesley business owners have told us, they really had to earn their loans. One local restaurant went from eight to one employee early during the pandemic, and had a great challenge carving out time to work with a lender on navigating tricky paperwork.
Another Wellesley restaurant, Fiorella’s, got a PPP loan back in April and owner Remon Karian said at the time it would be a big help, along with flexibility from landlords and support from the community.
But Wellesley merchants continue to seek additional ways to power through the pandemic. Some would like to see a tax break from the town, but Wellesley is currently not offering any such abatement, directing retailers to small business loan opportunities and MassDevelopment program funds.
The town also recently told merchants that relief from landlords will be something tenants need to take up with their property managers.
Wellesley has taken steps to help local businesses, such as through the COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has paid for protective supplies and helped restaurants connect with those who need meals. The town has also allowed more outdoor dining opportunities, including on the Town Hall green, and soon, near Clocktower Park.
Other opportunities could emerge. Needham’s Select Board recently voted to cut restaurant liquor license fees in half for 2021, so perhaps that’s something Wellesley establishments could push for.
Note: Businesses were not required to self-identify the race, gender or veteran status of ownership for the data shared by MAPC, and that accounts for so much missing info in those columns.