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450 Bend businesses receive PPP loans to help with COVID-19 impacts

(Adding 2 videos, comments from Bend businesses)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The federal government says Oregon businesses and organizations received about $6 billion as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, and about 450 loans of more than $150,000 were given out in Bend.

Nurseries, breweries and lumber companies were among the businesses who received support from the federal government to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, NewsChannel 21 spoke to some Bend businesses on the list to learn how they used the money.

Kara Tachikawa, the program director of Mountainstar Family Relief Nursery, said Mountainstar received a PPP loan of more than $300,000.

Tachikawa said Mountainstar applied for the loan as soon as the first application was made available. She said the application process was fairly smooth, and they received the money about two weeks after they applied.

“We were coming into the pandemic when everything closed down, knowing families were going to need us,” she said.

She said 75% of the loan was used to pay staff and 25% was used to pay for utilities, mortgage, rent and other facility expenses.

Robin Cooper Engle, the director of development for Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity, said the loan helped 35 staff members keep their jobs when both their locations in Bend and Redmond closed due to the pandemic.

“Our Bend store didn’t even reopen until June 8, so being able to sustain staff, making sure we were taken care of during this time was absolutely incredible,” Engle said.

She said Habitat for Humanity was able to complete construction for two homes in Redmond and one in Bend during the pandemic.

She said they are hoping to build 12 homes by the end of the year, with the help of the PPP loan.

Scott Ramsay, the owner of Sun Mountain Fun Center, said the business was in the midst of a remodel when it was forced to close its doors due to the pandemic. 

“We’re adding laser tag and virtual reality, but all of that because of COVID-19 has been pushed back,” Ramsay said.

He said the center applied late for the PPP loans, but received a loan of about $157,000 in the second phase of distribution.

He said all of the money will go toward staff payroll.

“We paid all of our employees through the month of March, even though we were closed,” he said. “Then we decided, this is going to last a lot longer. So under the bank’s advice, we applied for it right before it closed.”

Like Sun Mountain Fun Center, Aloha Produce said all of the money it received went directly to paying staff and keeping their operations going.

Nick Dean, the director of operations, said Aloha Produce applied during the first phase, but did not receive loan funds until the second round of distribution.

Dean said the application process was stressful.

“We worked tremendously with U.S. Bank to get the paperwork figured out, and we were trying to figure out how we were going to operate as a company,” Dean said.

As a locally owned and operated produce distribution company, Dean said the business suffered financially after many of their clients closed their doors.

“Schools closed down, restaurants closed down, the entire state of Oregon closed down -- and those are all of our main clients,” Dean said. “We then started”

Aloha Produce started partnering with local organizations like The Giving Plate to provide produce boxes to families across Central Oregon in need of food.

The PPP loans are aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic that led so many others to shut their doors indefinitely or face severe restrictions.

In April, the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funds from the $349 billion federal stimulus package.

Congress later approved another $310 billion to support the businesses still in need of help who were not approved in the initial round of funding.

The local businesses said the next step is figuring out how to apply for loan forgiveness or pay back the debt.

Article Topic Follows: Business

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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