SANBORN, NY – The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for many businesses. Original Pizza Logs, based in Niagara County, was one of them.

“Things unfolded quite quickly after the start of the pandemic,” owner Jason Cordova said. “We had no orders for about six weeks, and when the phone started ringing again, people called to cancel the orders.”

Cordova said that a significant part of the company’s business is distributing its products to restaurants and as an official supplier to arenas and stadiums.

“After the restaurants and stadiums closed, Original Pizza Logs did the same for a while,” he said.

Cordova employs around 50 people. He said that even though business was slowing down, he was able to keep them all working in part because it launched a new product and focused on retail.

The other saving grace, Cordova says, was a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program that eventually became a grant.

“The PPP was a lifeline for our business and many other businesses in western New York, and across the country for that matter,” he said.

Original Pizza Logs is one of some 60,000 Buffalo-based M&T Bank companies that has helped secure approximately $ 10 billion in PPP loans across its eight states as one of the Association’s largest lenders. small businesses across the country. This includes more than 9,200 companies that employ approximately 11,000 people in western New York City alone.

The average loan amount was $ 165,000.

“Sixty-six percent of the loans were made to businesses with 10 or fewer employees, and 92 percent were businesses that employed 50 or fewer people, so we really tried to focus on small businesses,” Christina Berozyna, senior vice president of M&T and director of sales and corporate banking, said.

The bank said it was helping businesses navigate regulations, with the vast majority of loans being written off entirely. Berozyna said the money is being used not only to keep people working, but for things like keeping the lights on and even growing businesses.

“It’s had a really big impact on small businesses, and they’ve been able to leverage the funding to grow the business, reinvest in the business, and retain employees, and it’s been really exciting,” he said. she declared.

In fact, Cordova said that once his company got the loan, he was actually able to invest some of that money into hiring five new employees at a time when other companies were putting in. leave or dismiss people.

“Basically two and a half months have been free work for us,” he said. “That was, I think, the whole point of PPP. To use it for employees, to retain the people you had. But if the opportunity presents itself, you can develop yourself. And that’s what we chose to do, and I think we were rewarded with that. “

Now, hopefully at worst, Original Pizza Logs is looking to the future, preparing to launch a new product, the Original Buffalo-Style Chicken Logs, and Cordova says she is very excited to continue to grow. .