The Paycheck Protection Program was a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to the SBA, loan forgiveness will occur if all of the employee retention criteria are met and the funds were used for eligible expenses. The criteria for forgiveness set by SBA include conditions such as the employer must maintain or quickly rehire employees and maintain salary levels, according to the SBA.

According to the SBA, at least 75% of the loan needs to be used for payroll purposes.

Essers Plumbing and Heating was among the Perham businesses to receive a PPP loan form the SBA. Joe Esser Sr., from Esser Plumbing and Heating, said that because of the PPP loan they received from the SBA, they were able to maintain 90% of their employees.

The only employees that were not kept on were those who were at high risk medically and needed to leave work in order to not contract the virus, Esser said.

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The program has been pretty good and probably one of the best things that the government could do for small businesses during a pandemic, Esser said. He said, normally the government does not care about small businesses but this time they did, which will likely help keep many small businesses open.

In Perham, 22 local businesses applied for and received PPP loans from the SBA.