More than 200 businesses in Hampshire County protected nearly 1,600 jobs with the Payroll Protection Program that the federal government rolled out in April as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combined cash influx was in the range of $8 million, judging by the information the Small Business Administration provided earlier this month.

The payments were a godsend to the county, the heads of The Bank of Romney and FNB Bank agree.

“Many businesses have reported that the PPP funds were a true life saver and have provided hope in remaining open post-pandemic,” FNB Bank President Travis Delaplain said.

“Providing millions of dollars in the last several months has certainly been a boost to our local economy and helped keep our local businesses and their employees paid,” Bank of Romney President Dean Young said.

Both men pointed toward the unemployment rate here as a measure of the success of the program. Hampshire County’s unemployment was 2nd-best in West Virginia in April and May as the state and nation closed down to try to stop the pandemic’s spread.

Congress approved $349 billion for the business stimulus called the Payroll Protection Program on March 27. Applications opened April 3 and 11 days later the pot was tapped out. Another round of funding added $250 billion to the pot.

The program provided a 2-year loan at 1-percent interest to pay a company’s workers for 8 weeks. If a business kept all its employees on payroll for the entire time, the federal government will pay the loan off.

Businesses could actually apply for 2.5 times their average monthly payroll to help with other expenses, like utilities or rent.

The SBA’s database provided some specifics on each payment and payee.

For the smallest of loans — under $150,000 — the SBA identified the exact amount, the number of employees in the business and its geographic location. The names of the businesses were not released, however.

Loans over $150,000 included the name of the borrower, but only categorized the loan in categories of $150,000 to $350,000, $350,000 to $1 million and $1-2 million.

Hampshire County had 9 larger businesses receive PPP money, with 7 in the $150,000-plus category, 2 more in the $350,000-plus category and 1 for over $1 million. The Review is not identifying those recipients.

Combined, those 10 companies claimed 592 employees.

The much larger list is businesses who received less than $150,000. It includes 198 businesses with addresses in Hampshire County, or out of Burlington (Mineral) or Paw Paw (Morgan) that could be in Hampshire County.

The 198 firms represented 992 jobs and received $5.15 million in PPP money.

The recipients included 11 nonprofits, 2 professional associations and 2 self-employed individuals.

The smallest payment was for $850 to a sole proprietorship on the eastern end of the county.

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