The Plastics Industry Association received $1.17 million from the Paycheck Protection Program after meeting requirements for nonprofit groups struggling during a difficult economic time.
The Washington-based trade association sought relief under an expansion of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, which became law late last year, according to Brendan Thomas, vice president of marketing and communications for the association.
The cancellation of the NPE2021 trade show because of the COVID-19 pandemic was a financial blow to the trade group, which represents about 1,000 machine builders, equipment manufacturers, mold makers, material suppliers, processors, converters and recyclers.
About 2,100 companies had made partial or full payments to exhibit at NPE, which had been scheduled for May 17-21 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Founded in 1937, the trade group has put on the show since 1946 and depends on it for revenue.
Thomas said the group "made budgetary adjustments to absorb the financial impact and applied for a PPP loan under expanded eligibility rules to retain employees and continue its work."
The $1,166,125 in PPP funds will go toward payroll for 50 employees, according to the coronavirus bailout loan information on ProPublica.com, a nonprofit investigative newsroom.
First-draw borrowers may qualify for full loan forgiveness if they maintain employee and compensation levels during the eight- to 24-week period following the disbursement.
Borrowers also must use the loan for eligible expenses and put at least 60 percent toward payroll costs to be eligible for loan forgiveness.
Asked what the plastics association would have done without the federal aid, Thomas said: "Fortunately, careful budget planning, savings and programs like the Paycheck Protection Program have allowed [the association] to continue serving its members and the industry during COVID-19."
The association's budget woes have had a ripple effect on some of the companies that had planned to participate in NPE2021. Some exhibitors put down deposits of 50 percent for booths that cost up to $100,000 while others paid in full.
The association announced Jan. 22 that the first half of the booth fees had been spent on planning the huge triennial show and would not be returned.
"NPE may be every three years but the production is constant," Thomas said. "We do use deposits to produce the show."
Companies that paid in full can get a refund for the second half of their booth fees or apply the amount toward association membership or NPE2024.
"To offer refunds on the second 50 percent will be an enormous financial hit for the Plastics Industry Association as is paying the outstanding accounts for NPE, of which there are a lot," Thomas said. "Our members and exhibitors aren't the only ones we're currently settling. There's a lot to unwinding the show."
The group's staff is in the process of contacting all exhibitors and members about their options, Thomas said.
"Conversations are going well," he added. "We haven't contacted everyone. We have exhibitors all over the world and reaching everyone takes time. We're working with foreign counterparts and leveraging personal relationships."
As the association staff addresses the complications of the canceled NPE, it is also planning the next one.
"Many exhibitors have chosen to apply their refunds to membership and deposits towards a future show," Thomas said.
NPE2024 is scheduled for May 6-10, 2024.
"We want to maintain the long-standing relationships we've had for this decades-old show. It'll be as successful in the future as it was in 2018," Thomas said.