KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hundreds of Knoxville and East Tennessee businesses qualified for loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The idea behind the program was to help employers maintain jobs through the coronavirus pandemic.
The average loan size in Tennessee was $95,000.
Around 82,000 received less than $150,000. And around 11,000 businesses received more than $150,000.
Knoxville businesses with smaller PPP loans averaged $36,000 and were able to retain around 25,000 jobs.
"If we didn't have it there would probably be less businesses, more bankruptcies and more layoffs," said startup attorney and UT instructor Haseeb Qureshi.
Quereshi has been helping small businesses apply for the loans, and found that businesses who managed to get federal aid were able to keep people employed. Without it, thousands of more jobs may have been lost, he said.
"You don't want to see a business lose a job, it's hard to create jobs," said Qureshi.
Data released this week by the Small Business Administration confirms that as businesses slowly bring people back into the workforce. More than 93,000 Tennessee businesses were approved for $8.9 billion.
"I looked at Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga," he said. "We had the second-highest average loan size for loans under $150,000. What it meant to me was Knoxville is keeping up with other cities."
Maryville College, Johnson University and Carson-Newman University all got between $2 million and $5 million each.
The Dollywood Foundation received between $150,000 and $350,000. Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee got the same amount.
The Copper Cellar Corporation got $5 million to $10 million. So did Ruby Tuesday, which is based in Maryville.
Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery, based in Sevier County, received between $2 million and $5 million.
But around 88% of businesses that applied were small businesses, known to be the backbone of communities.
"82,000 loans were issued to small businesses and I think that's remarkable," said Qureshi.
There's still time to apply for a PPP loan. The deadline is August 8, but experts urge businesses to apply before the end of the month.