Bryan and Teresa Cadran, who now own the company started by his father, were able to bring back two laid-off workers and will be able hire a third for an open position.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Repro Systems has been making signs and graphics for commercial and personal use for 40 years. But when the pandemic hit, the family business saw its workflow drop by 75 percent.
"I think it was like the domino effect," said Bryan Cadran, who runs the business with his wife, Teresa, and a few employees. "First the building community and then the graphics, so as some businesses closed or stayed at home, our production just dropped — just like a light switch."
Two of his employees were able to return on Monday after being laid off for five weeks and third position will be filled thanks to a loan through the Payroll Protection Plan, a nearly $700 billion federal stimulus program for small business passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
"The PPP loan ... we got it actually put into our account last week. So yesterday was the first day back to work full time for everybody," Cadran said.
Cadran played host to U.S. Rep. Richie Neal, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, on Tuesday as an example of what the program is doing in his district.
"This is a good news story," said Neal, who last week managed debate on the next the second round of PPP funding that became available on Monday. "We tried to create demand, right? By putting money into the hands of people that we felt that would make its way through the system. And it has."
The first round of small-business funding of about $350 billion was exhausted in less than two weeks; this second round of $310 billion will have more cautionary measures to limit access by larger corporations, including a $60 billion slice for smaller lending institutions to aid minority businesses and others that have had difficulty in getting loans from larger banks.
Some $10.3 billion was loaned to 46,937 Massachusetts businesses in the first round of funding. The forgivable loan is available to companies with fewer than 500 employees to keep workers on payroll and is being invested through local lending institutions.
Greylock Federal Credit Union has processed more than $23 million within the community to date and supported 2,977 jobs.
"In this small community, that's a huge. We're one of the local institutions, all the other community banks are working hard on this program for you. And so we're gonna do our part," said John Bissell, the credit union's president and CEO.
"We're hoping with Round 2 we can bring even more funds into the Berkshires."
Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, senior vice president and chief lending officer at Greylock Federal, said a lot of the loans the credit union processed are less than $50,000.
"Our smallest loan was $1,000. And that thousand dollars to that sole proprietor is as important as that $2.3 million to a bigger business," she said.
She gave an example of one family totally dependent on their small business and how the mother was in tears on the phone trying to get just an $1,800 loan through the system.
"Small business is really the heart of almost any community in Massachusetts, but the larger businesses who are also employing, you know, 100 people, they're supporting 100 families," Rathbun-Briggs said. "This funding is incredibly important."
SBA Regional Administrator Wendell Davis noted that the first round of the PPP resulted in $349 billion in loans in 12 days, compared to $30 billion in SBA loans in all of last year.
"When you look at it from that perspective, it's remarkable how well it ran. I get the hiccups. But it's remarkable," he said. "And we couldn't do it without the public-private partnership. There's no way we had a mechanism to deploy those funds on the streets to small businesses without having 5,000 banks help out with that effort and we couldn't have done it without the credit unions and community banks."
Bissell thanked Neal for his efforts and joked that if he kept sending the money, Greylock Federal would keep putting it into the community.
Cadran is looking forward to a phased opening of the state (Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced an advisory board to develop guidance) and is starting to see a bump in projects. He figures he's down about 65 percent at this point but is glad his workers are there to keep up to date on the projects coming in.
He's anticipating graphics for stores as they reopen — for doors and floors as social distancing continues — and blueprints in the company's digital planning room that can be used by contractors and architects to store, update and print schematics.
"So I think the timing, I hope, is going to be good. ... If I didn't get the PPP loan, I wouldn't be able to bring [employees] back full time yet. We just don't have the work to support that right now. So we're focusing on setting up things that are going to help our customers down the road," he said. "It's starting already. I'm working with Prime Outlets in Lee trying to get their package together as to what they need to reopen."
Editor's note: the total amount of loans made was misquoted in the original version; to date, Greylock has disbursed more than $23.5 million.
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