One in 5.2 million: Oklahoma business one of many soldiering on amid Covid crisis thanks to PPP loan
The U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program granted more than 5.2 million loans (averaging $100,000 each) for $525 billion to business owners across the nation.
This week, a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) regional administrator visited the community to highlight the program’s success in Oklahoma.
Administrator Justin Crossie, whose area of responsibility covers the state, said there were 66,210 loans worth $5.5 billion made through the Paycheck Protection Program to owners of Oklahoma businesses, saving an estimated 141,815 jobs.
One loan recipient, Dirk Spiers, owner of Spiers New Technologies in Oklahoma City, said the assistance had more value than just keeping idled workers paid.
“It is not only about saving jobs,” said Spiers, whose company analyzes and repairs, refurbishes or repurposes battery packs used to power electric vehicles and for other, similar applications.
Spiers said it also enables companies like his to keep their operational teams intact — a critical concern for a business engaged in the types of work that Spiers New Technologies provides its clients.
“When people leave a company, they take away knowledge” picked up over years of employment and related training, Spiers said.
“It is about continuity of operations for a company to be able to maintain their workforces,” agreed Crossie. “With President Trump’s bold leadership in guiding a bipartisan Congress in passing the act, this was part of that. The vision was to enable companies to pick up where they left off when restrictions were lifted. The whole goal of the PPP was to enable businesses to weather the initial downturn from COVID and to come out on the other side of that ready to go, to hit the ground running as soon as they could.”
Community banks’ role
Crossie attributed part of the program’s success to the willingness of community banks across the nation to help their clients obtain the assistance.
In the case of Spiers Technology, that help came through Chickasaw Community Bank, an Oklahoma City operation that has held a state banking charter for 18 years.
T.W. Shannon, the bank’s CEO, said it began looking into the program after hearing from customers like Spiers about its availability.
“We knew the need was great, and were willing to step up on behalf of our clients” to get them the help they needed. “We were able to save about 1,000 jobs directly just through loans we were able to get approved for our customers,” Shannon said.
He said the bank processed 230 loans worth about $16 million, adding that about 40% of those were made to women-owned businesses and 32% to minority-owned businesses.
He added that community banks and the important role they play in supporting people across the nation were highlighted by the Paycheck Protection Program, noting they were among the first financial institutions to invite non-customers to seek the aid with their help.
“I think it speaks to the commitment that community banks have to our communities at large. That is why we exist,” Shannon said.
Spiers, whose company employs about 60 workers, said he credits both Chickasaw Community Bank and the SBA for the hard work they put in earlier this year to get the program up and running.
Spiers said watching the financing come together was similar to building a plane while in flight, “so, it was difficult for everyone. But, we had our ducks in a row, and the bank had its ducks in a row, and the SBA accomplished a very difficult task under very complicated circumstances. In the end, it worked. We got it, it helped us, and it was a success.”
Crossie wants to remind Oklahoma business owners that the SBA routinely provides all kinds of assistance to entrepreneurs to help them succeed in their business-building efforts, describing the agency as a “toolbox” that entrepreneurs can access to help them in various ways.
“We have a tremendous amount of resources available at SBA.gov, and the staff here in Oklahoma and across the country stand ready to help.”