Brandy Wahlstrom (right), owner-operator of That Chicken Place, pictured here March 14, 2020 with her son Zach Maychrak, has kept her business running with the help of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Brandy Wahlstrom (right), owner-operator of That Chicken Place, pictured here March 14, 2020 with her son Zach Maychrak, has kept her business running with the help of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

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Federal loans have poured $1.8 billion into Snohomish County

The Paycheck Protection Program kept thousands of local businesses and entrepreneurs afloat.

EVERETT — Since April, up to $1.8 billion in federal loans have flowed to more than 15,000 businesses and entrepreneurs across Snohomish County, data shows.

Under the Paycheck Protection Program, some got as little as $150. Others received checks of up to $10 million.

“Many of our businesses and workers would not have been able to survive the last year without PPP loans and other federal, state, and local programs,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement. “We are very grateful to our congressional delegation, who ensured support made its way to Snohomish County businesses. Whether a coffee shop, hair salon, or construction company, small businesses in Snohomish County are the backbone of our recovery.”

And as vaccinations ramp up and COVID case counts dip, businesses that made it through the pandemic are starting to see hope on the horizon.

On Monday, Snohomish County, along with the rest of Washington, advances to Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. That permits 50% capacity in restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms and other indoor businesses.

For owner-operator Brandy Wahlstrom, two rounds of Paycheck Protection Program loans are what kept the doors open at That Chicken Place on Hewitt Avenue in Everett. The nearly $30,000 she received covered rent, food costs and other bills.

“It’s lifesaving, truly,” she said.

Her first loan from the federal program kept her doors open for a few months in the spring.

But the pandemic dragged on longer than many imagined, and she couldn’t continue as the restaurant’s sole host, cook, dishwasher, janitor, bookkeeper, supplier and manager.

So she closed in August.

“At that point, I didn’t know if I was going to open back up or not,” she said. “I didn’t want all the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, to go to waste. At the beginning of this, I said COVID wasn’t going to beat me. You put so much into it. Any business owner puts so much of their own love into it. It’s sad to almost walk away.”

In September, as COVID cases improved, she reopened.

Brandy Wahlstrom, owner-operator of That Chicken Place, has held on to her Everett business since public guidelines, which severely cut into revenue, took effect a year ago. The federal Paycheck Protection Program helped her stay open. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

Brandy Wahlstrom, owner-operator of That Chicken Place, has held on to her Everett business since public guidelines, which severely cut into revenue, took effect a year ago. The federal Paycheck Protection Program helped her stay open. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

And last month, she was approved for a second loan from the federal program. That, plus improved foot traffic, has That Chicken Place on the right track, she said, and looking to bring on more staff.

Across the county, more than 13,000 businesses and entrepreneurs received loans of less than $150,000 from the federal program.

The remaining 1,500 got between $150,000 and $10 million. For them the data doesn’t give exact loan amounts. Instead it offers ranges like $150,000 to $350,000 or $5 million to $10 million.

Countywide, 11 companies received loans up to $10 million, including the Tulalip Gaming Organization, Electroimpact and Compass Health.

Sound Publishing, which owns the Daily Herald, got $4.1 million, and has paid back 70%, Publisher Josh O’Connor said.

Under the program, businesses don’t have to pay back the loan if they spend at least 75% of the aid on payroll or employee benefits. The rest can go to expenses like rent, utilities or other benefits for staff.

If a company doesn’t spend at least 60% of the money on employee payroll, it’ll become a loan that must be paid back in two years.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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