Boozman Shares Success Stories of Arkansas Businesses for PPP Anniversary

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized Arkansas small businesses for their successful participation in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in commemoration of the first anniversary of the lifeline’s launch.

Congress created the PPP as part of the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help tackle the financial challenges of small businesses. This legislation passed unanimously in March of 2020, and the Small Business Administration swiftly opened program enrollment on April 3, 2020. The PPP has helped keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic-fueled economic downturn by providing low-interest loans with a portion eligible for forgiveness.

Boozman featured on his social media channels five Arkansas small businesses that received PPP funds to maintain operations:

KTCS 999 – Fort Smith

When businesses and schools were forced to close in 2020 because of the public health emergency, Fort Smith radio station KTCS 999 modified its operations to keep its staff safe. Advertising revenue plummeted for the family-owned business as companies kept their doors closed and station leaders needed a way to support their 17 employees.

“We have families that live right here that depend on us and we need to give them security that we’re here and they have a job. And when they’re watching advertising dollars not coming in, they’re worried,” KTCS 999 General Manager Melissa Eckelhoff said in a video. “When the PPP loan was offered we were very thankful. We jumped on it.”

Eckelhoff says while advertising still hasn’t returned to pre-2020 levels for her station, the PPP funds have allowed her to keep all of the employees on staff. “We’ve worked really hard to maintain it, but it is because of Senator Boozman and the PPP loan.”  

Click here to watch the KTCS 999 video featured on Boozman’s social media channels.

Tanners Team Sports Inc. – Hot Springs

The beginning of the calendar year is high season for Tanners Team Sports Inc. as it gets its sporting accessories including baseball products into the market, but in March 2020, major customers began canceling orders. “It was one of the scariest times I’ve ever had in my 35 years in the sporting goods industry,” Tanners Team Sports Inc.’s President  and CEO Vince Signorelli said in a video. “The government assistance programs through the CARES Act were first and foremost in terms of what we needed to have to get through.” Signorelli says he used the PPP funds to pay employees and cover overhead costs of the operation. Without this support he believes his businesses “would not be here today.”

Click here to watch the Tanners Team Sports Inc. video featured on Boozman’s social media channels.

Stepping Stone School – Alma

Funding through the PPP enabled the Stepping Stone School in Alma to keep employees on payroll and maintain basic operational expenses while its day programs were closed in 2020 from March 13 to the end of May because of the public health emergency. “The Paycheck Protection Program was critical to the survival of our organization,” said Stepping Stone School Executive Director Toni Wilson in a video“Senator Boozman was very supportive and encouraging and provided us with the people we needed to visit with to get the information we needed so we could prepare and submit a successful application to the Small Business Administration.”

Click here to watch the Stepping Stone video featured on Boozman’s social media channels

SparkFit – Little Rock

Little Rock gym SparkFit had to temporarily close its doors in March 2020. Employees weren’t able to work and its 120 members weren’t allowed to use the training facilities. The business quickly adapted to serving its customers online. The relationships owners built with the bank and the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center helped make the process of applying for a PPP loan easier. “The PPP local was very essential for us,” SparkFit owner Glenn McCracken said in a video. “It stabilized our employees in a really scary time.”

“When you walk down Main Street you don’t see chains. You see small businesses. You see people putting their heart into the communities and these are the businesses that really needed the PPP,” McCracken said.

Click here to watch the SparkFit video featured on Boozman’s social media channels

Bordinos – Fayetteville

Fayetteville restaurant Bordinos changed ownership on February 3, 2020. Five weeks later, the industry experienced unprecedented challenges and the restaurant shut down. Non-salaried employees were laid off as the restaurant adapted to serving customers through to-go and delivery orders. However, that model was unsustainable, and the restaurant closed at the end of March for the next two months. Owner Jeff Allison worked with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center to learn about the PPP. “PPP was absolutely crucial to the success of the business,” Allison said in a video. “Without it there is no way we would have survived.”

When the restaurant reopened, Allison got creative with compensation and gave employees a bonus of $300 a week to each employee and raised the minimum wage to $15 across the board. “It was a way that we could encourage people to come back to work, to get off of unemployment, provide a job and give them a little extra cushion,” Allison said.

Click here to watch the Bordinos video featured on Boozman’s social media channels.

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been a game-changer in keeping the doors of small businesses open and saving millions of jobs. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished to launch the program and strengthen it to ensure we continue to deliver vital resources to struggling employers so they can maintain operations,” Boozman said.

The PPP has delivered more than 8.7 million loans to small businesses totaling approximately $734 billion in relief nationwide. In Arkansas, it has enabled more than 64,000 small businesses to maintain operations.

Congress approved $349 billion for the program in the CARES Act. As a result of the PPP’s popularity, additional funding was approved within weeks. Boozman has continued to champion the PPP and advocate for simplifying the loan forgiveness paperwork and expanding eligibility requirements to help more businesses. Last month, the senator voted to extend the program through May 31, 2021.

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