Malheur County businesses got about $14 million to help keep employees on board during pandemic

A federal program gave 387 Malheur County businesses around $13.8 million to keep 5,000 jobs against the economic shutdown of the pandemic, federal records show.

The Paycheck Protection Program provided forgivable loans totaling that amount to businesses, averaging $6,000 per job. The loans are forgiven if employers maintained or rehired employees at their existing salary.

Malheur County had 12,000 non-farm jobs in January, and still lost 670 jobs even with the program, according to Oregon Employment Department data.

Every call to the Small Business Development Center at Treasure Valley Community College received for a month was about the loan program, said Director Andrea Testi.

The center helped around 247 businesses apply for the program, said Testi.

“Every single business I talked to, it helped. Is it curing everything? No. But every bit . . .