WEHCO Media Inc. will receive $12.3 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Walter E. Hussman Jr., the company’s chairman, on Monday.
WEHCO Media is the parent company of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, eight other daily newspapers and eight weekly newspapers. The company also has a cable television business.
Hussman said WEHCO has about 1,300 employees. About 900 of them work at the company’s newspapers.
The Paycheck Protection Program loans were created to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the covid-19 pandemic.
Hussman said WEHCO newspaper employees who recently volunteered to take furloughs, salary cuts or a reduction in working hours will no longer be required to do so. Hussman emailed the company’s full-time newspaper employees on April 13 asking for volunteers.
Hussman said each of WEHCO’s 21 separate companies is receiving a loan through the program, and the total amount is $12.3 million.
“Originally, we did not believe we could qualify for a federal Payroll Protection Program loan, where if maintaining our payroll, it would result in a forgiveness or grant,” Hussman and Nat W. Lea IV, president and chief executive officer, said in an email to WEHCO newspaper employees late Monday. “However, last week, we learned our company could qualify. As a result, we applied, and our SBA loans have been approved and funded covering a full eight weeks of payroll.”