83% of pandemic business loans that helped pay 112,600 Greater Cleveland employees have been forgiven

CLEVELAND, Ohio — More than 83% of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans have been forgiven in Greater Cleveland, meaning at least this share of businesses accepting the loans met promises to maintain their payrolls, according to data through Feb. 13 from the SBA.

The agency issued 14,675 loans to Greater Cleveland small businesses during 2020 and 2021 to help keep them operating throughout the pandemic. The businesses combined have over 112,600 employees and received more than $2.5 billion in loans.

Most PPP loans issued under $150,000 with an interest rate of 1%. To qualify for forgiveness, businesses had to maintain employee and compensation rates, with 60% of the money requested spent on payroll and the remainder spent on other operational costs.

Most of the Cleveland businesses receiving the loans were small – with 80% listing eight or fewer employees on loan applications. On the high end – with 500 employees each – were Educare Medical Staffing, Comet Glass, and Appletree Books.

Borrowers have up to 10 months after the last day of the covered period to request forgiveness. Many of the businesses that have not paid back their loans in full or applied for forgiveness are still within that grace period.

More than 70% of loan forgiveness happened during the last three months of 2020, with Cleveland businesses being forgiven a collective $1.75 billion, or 70% of the total loan amount in Greater Cleveland, as defined as Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina , Portage and Summit counties.

To qualify for PPP loan forgiveness, a business can apply once all loan proceeds have been used, within 10 months after the last day of the covered period.

Data is not available for when borrowers applied for loans, but experts have suggested that applications petered out after the initial announcement in 2020 accounting for the bulk of loans being forgiven at that time. Loans taken at the end of the program in May 2021 are still in the 10-month period.

Loans are not automatically forgiven in full, as partial forgiveness is possible at the discretion of the lender. Currently, 76% of Cleveland PPP loans have been paid back in full.

These numbers are higher than the rest of Ohio, with only 77% of its loans at least partially forgiven and 65% of loans paid back in full.

The state as a whole has received more than $23 billion in loan forgiveness, about 3% of funds issued across the country, which is in line with Ohio’s share of the population. According to SBA data, the United States has had more than 84% of PPP loans forgiven.

Ohio received 81% of its overall forgiveness in 2020, above the country’s average of 75%.

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