Area Small Businesses Receive PPP Money

David Neff
Business owner David Neff found the Payroll Protection Program helpful.
(Courtesy of David Neff)

Several small Jewish-owned businesses in the Philadelphia area have applied, been approved for and received Payroll Protection Program funds from the program established in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Meantime, others have applied and are still pending approval; still others have applied through their bank and have received word that they’ve been approved but are waiting for their disbursement, which can be used to meet payroll and other essential expenses like employee benefits, interest on mortgage obligations, and payments for rent and utilities.

David Neff, founder and owner of Neff, a boutique branding, advertising and public relations agency in Old City, felt lucky that he was successful in receiving the PPP money his business needed to meet its next eight weeks
of payroll.

“What we received (from PPP) has been helpful,” Neff said. “There were a few people at the company who have been furloughed or laid off, but we’ve been able to keep most of the team intact.”

Before the pandemic, Neff employed “up to 23 people,” Neff said. “And that’s the highest number that we’ve been to. Even though we’ve been in business over 30 years, we’d been growing quite a bit over the last two years.

“(The PPP money) is very helpful, especially knowing, as long as the money is used in the proper way it was intended, it’s very helpful knowing that most of the dollars will be forgiven,” Neff said. “I don’t think it’s the end-all be-all to the survival of any business, but I think it’s definitely going to be very helpful.”

PPP loans will be forgiven as long as proceeds are used to cover payroll costs — at least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll — or most mortgage, rent and utility costs over the eight-week period after the loan is made.

For the most part, PPP has been welcomed as a necessary tourniquet for area small business owners, a way to take care of most if not all of their employees’ salaries and benefits, keep them off of the unemployment rolls and, in many cases, literally keep the lights on.

The concern, however, is that the legislation stipulates that all PPP funds must be used in one of the enumerated ways within eight weeks of receiving the funds if those loans are to become forgivable.

That time frame has business owners worried, as it appears implausible that even a fraction of small businesses will be open for business, let alone generating revenue, eight weeks from the time they received their first check. A second round of PPP funding has been established, but many area small business owners say third, fourth, and fifth rounds may be needed.

“There are a very, very high percentage of small- and medium-sized businesses that desperately need cash infusions that up to now have been shut out,” Neff said. “If they don’t get help, that could have a devastating impact on all small business.”

Jeff Kalinsky, the longtime director of operations at Betty the Caterer, feels similarly.

“As far as the length of the loan, it would be nicer if it were longer (than eight weeks),” he said. “If it could last six months, that would be helpful, especially in our business. The party business, the catering business is going to take a whole lot longer to open up than a retail store or a restaurant just because of what we do and the size of our events.”

“Who’s going to authorize a party for 200 people? That’s going to be a major concern for us for a while, beyond eight weeks, beyond, maybe, even
six months. We’re nervous about it.

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