As part of the federal government’s economic stimulus during the pandemic, the Times Corporation received an $8.5 million loan on Friday. The money comes from the Paycheck Protection Program through the Small Business Administration. Under the rules of the program, the government will likely cancel a large portion of the loan, and the remaining balance will bear an interest rate of 1%.
Most of the money will stay with the Tampa Bay Times, while a portion will go to our related publications, including Florida Trend business magazine and our free weekly newspapers.
Here are ten things we want you to know.
1. These are extraordinary times. The crisis has paralyzed the business of many of our advertisers, and therefore of the Times. During Easter week, our advertising sales hit a new low.
2. Money makes the difference. To get through the crisis, we have already taken strong action, and this support gives us more time for the economy to recover before we have to do more.
3. The loan does not compromise our independence or limit our journalism. Rather, it will help support our work to report the news, ask the tough questions, hold government and other powerful institutions to account.
4. This does not solve everything. The loan is substantial and we are grateful for it. But at the current rate, that would make up for our lost revenue for about three months.
5. The money does not allow us to add days of printing and home delivery. We will only be able to consider these options when the economy and local businesses recover.
6. Most of the money will go to our employees. We are bringing back a few co-workers from furlough and reversing a pay cut for most employees a month earlier than planned. (For our senior executives, the pay cut was larger and it remains in place.) Above all, we can keep most of our employees on the job.
seven. We didn’t get any special treatment. The Times Company qualified as an independent business and we applied through our local bank, Hancock Whitney. We did not hire lobbyists or lawyers to make the system work. The loan is calculated on the size of our payroll.
8. We feel a special obligation both to tell you about this loan and to use it well. We are a media company operating in the public interest. We are careful with taxpayers’ money, and that now includes this support from the federal government.
9. We are a local business, based here, and not part of a national chain. We feel the difficulties of our neighbors and we are working to help the Tampa Bay area through these difficult times. It will be good for the community and good for The Times.
ten. Readers are the foundation of our business. Publicity is important, and this government support will fill some gaps as business suffers. But in the long term, the future of The Times depends above all on the support of our readers. We will continue to work to earn your trust.
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We send you our thanks and best wishes. Stay strong. Better days are ahead.