(WKRC) – Gregg DeVita started Midwest Embroidery here back in 2014, building it into a business worth about a half-million dollars annually, and he was about to have a banner year.
Then the pandemic hit.
He says without a loan of less than $100,000 from Congress’ Paycheck Protection Program, he might not have made it and his workers would have been on unemployment.
"It shows you what can be done when there is a unified purpose," DeVita said.
Under the $700 billion program, the loans can be forgivable and were to be used to help keep workers on the payroll – although rules were changed to allow for other expenses.
Congress is close to another round of coronavirus stimulus money that could include an extension of the PPP program.
While the program appears to have worked for DeVita’s company, many have questioned some of the companies and agencies that have received money from PPP.
That cost an estimated $2.4 billion, although the estimate is based on an average of loans. Actual loan amounts are not listed, only a range.
The data, supplied by the U.S. Treasury Department, shows that the program saved 180,000 jobs in the area – which consisted of the following counties – Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren in Ohio; Boone, Campbell, and Kenton in Kentucky; and Dearborn in Indiana.
That works out to an average cost of $13,295 per job.
A study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released this week found that the PPP program may have been one of the most effective of any of the coronavirus stimulus package.
The study concluded that the payroll loans may have kept unemployment rates from rising by as much as three percentage points.
In addition, the data shows that 34 companies received between $5 million and $10 million in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
Cincinnati’s downtown ZIP code received the most loans at 270, followed by the ZIP that includes Blue Ash, Evendale, and Sharonville with 154 loans.
The data does not list specific loan amounts, nor does it list names for any business receiving less than $150,000. And the Local 12 analysis did not include those smaller loans.
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood, is the ranking minority member for the House small business committee, and his district received more money than any other in Ohio. On Thursday, he introduced a bill that would guide $20 billion of remaining PPP money to businesses with 10 or fewer workers.
Chabot said the fact that Congress did so much so quickly is a near miracle, and that he hopes any next round would include as much or more transparency into who is getting what money.
"Transparency is important,” Chabot said. “After all these are taxpayer dollars. And I think people have a right to know where their money is going. On the other hand, there was a concern about there might be naming and shaming."
At least 230 area nonprofits, including churches, received money from the program. That raised eyebrows as those agencies and organizations do not pay taxes themselves.
One such church is Solid Rock Ministries, which received as much as $350,000, even though it defied state orders regarding COVID. Officials with that church did not return messages seeking comment.
Chabot defended the funds going to nonprofits, saying those agencies also were trying to help people in need.
"We actually included nonprofits, which is a little unusual but there are a lot of folks out there that help other people that aren't necessarily profitable companies,” Chabot said. “Some were church groups and faith-based organizations."

Congress is working with the White House on the next round, which could reach a total of $1 trillion and could include more for a PPP extension.
Chabot said would like to see companies that didn’t get loans in the first round to qualify, as well as smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees.