More than $116 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans went to North Fork businesses

Just over 1,500 small businesses on the North Fork received more than $116 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to data released last week by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The program, adopted in March by the federal government in the midst of an economic shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, provides forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

The records released by the SBA last week show that 853 companies in Riverhead and 651 in Southold secured funding during the first three months of the program to help keep their businesses afloat. The data was shared two ways. The 1,304 local businesses that secured loans of $150,000 or less were identified only by hamlet. The remaining 200 local business — all of which received between $150,000 and $5 million in funding — were named, though the exact dollar amounts of their loans were not disclosed. Instead, those loan amounts were separated into four ranges: $150,000 to $350,000; $350,000 to $1 million; $1 million to $2 million; and $2 million to $5 million.

While the maximum a company could borrow was $10 million, the records released last week show the top eight borrowers in Riverhead and Southold towns each secured somewhere between $2 million and $5 million in PPP funds. In total, 25 local companies obtained loans of $1 million or more, including four nonprofit corporations.

The data release does not give the full scope of borrowing by sector, but it does confirm that a wide range of industries were relying on the funding, with the some of the highest-dollar loans going to manufacturing, health care, agriculture and auto businesses. Nine businesses at the Enterprise Park at Calverton secured loans of more than $350,000, including seven in excess of $1 million, records show. A total of 108 companies in the hamlet of Calverton, where industrial and agricultural businesses predominate, secured PPP funding, more than any other hamlet in Riverhead Town. There were 143 loans issued to Mattituck companies.

The vast majority of North Fork loan recipients, 87%, were not named in the reports since they borrowed less than $150,000. Those companies received an average of about $36,000. Since only ranges were given on the larger loans, it is unclear exactly how much money was secured on the North Fork, though the information released last week shows it was somewhere between $116 million and $216 million.

The loans are forgiven if the funds are used to cover payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. At least 60% of the funds must be used toward payroll expenses. If employers do not bring back furloughed employees within a certain amount of time, the loan becomes payable at 1% interest. Records show that many local loans were secured through BNB Bank, with People’s United Bank and Capital One also among the most frequently used lenders. The first local loan was secured April 3 and the data released last week covers money borrowed through June 30.

In total, the SBA said it distributed more than $517 billion in funding from nearly 5,500 lenders to 4.9 million companies nationwide through the end of June. The average loan size nationally was $105,000. 

The data was released following a lawsuit filed by several media organizations that argued the information should be public. The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Dow Jones and ProPublica were among the companies that sought the records. They are continuing to seek a full release of all data, according to reports. Reporting by those organizations has revealed loans that were given to major companies as well as businesses associated with elected officials.