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Did your employer get paycheck-protection money? Search the list of 3,300 Idaho firms

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Idaho Falls from the air. | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Among the east Idaho businesses that took federal paycheck-protection money are familiar names: Kyani, Ball Ventures, Harris Publishing, and the Museum of Idaho, along with many others.

More than 3,300 Idaho businesses took at least $150,000 to retain workers who otherwise would have been laid off in the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released this week by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration. They include almost every kind of business imaginable, from garden centers to hospitals to car dealers, pizza shops and graphic-design companies.

Some business owners and managers say they’re grateful for the loans, which do not have to be repaid as long as 75% of the proceeds go toward payroll, rent, most mortgage interest, utility costs and other expenses.

“We would have effectively lost 25% of our staff otherwise,” said Rikk ✓McCown, regional manager for The Masonry Center, which is headquartered in Boise and has 49 workers at stores here and in Pocatello, Spokane and Billings, Montana. “The money brought comfort and security for our employees.”

But not everyone thinks the program has been as effective as it could have been.

“We ended up paying people to sit around and do nothing,” said Mike Kramer, who owns Thunder Mountain Catering, a Boise company whose 45 workers provide meals to wildland firefighters at camps throughout the West.

The program gave employers eight weeks to pay their workers, but the money arrived before the fire season took off. Later, the program rules changed, and there was a longer period to pay wages.

“I could have saved the money and waited until we got busy and then pay for people actually doing work,” Kramer said by phone. “If they would have given us a bigger time frame on the front end, like they did eventually, it would have worked out perfectly for us.”

The Masonry Center received between $350,000 and $1 million (Treasury and SBA reported the amounts only in ranges), and Thunder Mountain received between $150,000 and $350,000. You can find out how much your company and others received in a new Idaho Statesman database based on the government data. You can also search by city. Take a look:

Companies that employ 500 workers or fewer were eligible. More than 30,000 Idaho companies got loans. The database includes only companies that received at least $150,000. Treasury and SBA did not name the smaller recipients.

Even churches got money. Ten schools and 14 parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise received $1 to $2 million in PPP loans to retain 271 employees.

The schools, including Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s, St. Mark’s, St. Mary’s and Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, shared $3.3 million. The parishes shared about $700,000, diocese spokesperson Gene Fadness said.

Nationally, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups, the Associated Press reported.

The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an A.P. analysis of federal data released this week found.

There was at least one mistake in the Idaho listings. The Young Men’s Christian Association of Boise, which operates health clubs in Boise, Meridian and Caldwell as the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, is incorrectly listed as having received between $2 million and $5 million.

The YMCA applied for a PPP loan and was approved, but declined the money after YMCA officials questioned whether the nonprofit group qualified, CEO David Duro said.

While the Y had 1,259 employees before the pandemic, the entire staff was less than the equivalent of 500 employees. At first, the Y believed it would qualify under FTE but was later told the qualification was based on actual employees, Duro said.

“We got approved through our lender,” Duro said by phone. “And the money was just sitting there, waiting for use to sign the loan documents with the lender. But we ended up declining the money because we didn’t want to do something that didn’t seem quite legitimate.”

According to the Treasury/SBA data, the $2.57 billion given to Idaho companies kept at least 305,422 Idahoans on their jobs during the pandemic. The number is likely higher, as 7,044 companies that received PPP loans failed to report the number of workers they employ.

Those employee numbers were not required for a business to obtain a loan, but will be later for companies seeking to have the loans forgiven, SBA spokesperson Melanie Norton said by email.

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