At least two dozen Florida companies that reported mass layoffs to the federal government raised up to millions of dollars in PPP funding.
Business is back at Global Widget’s Tampa headquarters
“We went through the entire COVID situation with a better focus,” said Margaret Richardson, chief compliance and legal officer.
In April, the 4-year-old company that makes CBD-infused products like gums and hemp bombs laid off 68 employees, nearly half of its employees, due to COVID-19.
“It was the first time we did this,” said Richardson.
Two weeks later, the company was granted approval to receive just over $ 3 million in federal funds to protect paychecks or PPP.
“We wouldn’t have fired you, but it goes so quickly. You find out on a Thursday at 5:00 pm that you have been approved and funded the next day,” said Richardson.
The distributor is one of at least two dozen Florida companies that we found that have reported mass layoffs to the federal government because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have received federal help because of those losses.
“The result was what Congress intended to get you through the worst of the situation and return to the other side better prepared,” said Richardson, who told us the company hired not only all 68 laid-off employees, but 8 more new employees.
Without the money, said Richardson, there was no way they could all have been hired again.
According to its CEO Keith Dvorchik, the Greater Orlando Jewish Community Center received nearly $ 700,000 in paycheck protection funds in April. While the money was able to bring back most of the 136 people laid off in March, it was not enough to reinstate them all.
The income of the JCC is still declining, so that the non-profit association has been able to fire about a dozen more people since receiving the PPP funds.
“We had to make adjustments to match economic realities,” said Dvorchik.
Across the state, we’ve found that auto dealers, hotels, and restaurants are among the companies that have reported mass layoffs and secured PPP money, with some layoffs issued after or shortly before the money was approved.
Back at Global Widget in Tampa, while the FDA has yet to regulate the natural hemp industry, the company’s business is booming.
“We’re as legitimate as any other nutritional supplement company. We now have 176 employees,” said Richardson.
The company plans to have 200 employees by the end of a year who will continue to produce as much paint.