Biden boosts pandemic lending to smallest businesses
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced changes Monday to target more federal pandemic assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses and ventures owned by women and people of color. Biden says a lot of these mom and pop businesses “got muscled out of the way” by larger businesses seeking federal money in the early days of the pandemic. "America’s small businesses are hurting, hurting badly and they need help now,” Biden said. Under the pandemic-era Paycheck Protection Program, the administration is establishing a two-week window, starting Wednesday, in which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees — the overwhelming majority of small businesses — can apply for the forgivable loans. The Biden effort is aimed at correcting disparities in how the program was administered by the Trump administration.
I-TEAM: Big businesses benefit more from PPP loans than small ‘mom and pops’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With business down almost across the board because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, local companies are relying on government PPP loans to keep them going. “Help the people that lost their jobs, help our small businesses, make sure our schools get open.”Scott complained that the majority of the money is bailing out huge corporations instead of supporting small businesses. He’s pushing an amendment that would only help companies that can prove a substantial reduction in revenue from COVID-19. The I-TEAM has analyzed government documents showing that more than 32,000 businesses have gotten federal help in Northeast Florida; 14,000 in the city of Jacksonville alone. However, the median loan amount in Northeast Florida is $21,207, a much smaller piece of the pie.
GOP pushes for answers in Florida Democrats’ PPP loan
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Despite repeated calls from news organizations and the GOP, the Florida Democratic Party has so far refused to release its Payroll Protection Program loan application. Political parties were supposed to be excluded from the PPP loan program, but somehow Democrats got at least $780,000. Now, the GOP is calling for the Small Business Administration to release that information. In documents, Democrats show repaying the money to a different bank than the one that issued the loan. We also asked the Florida Democratic Party why it isn’t releasing the application, but we’ve yet to hear back from them.
NFL player from Florida accused in $24 million COVID-relief fraud scheme
Josh Bellamy, 31, of St. Petersburg, who previously played for the New York Jets, is accused of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Bellamy allegedly conspired with others to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent PPP loans. Early in the scheme, Phillip J. Augustin allegedly obtained a fraudulent PPP loan for his talent management company using falsified documents, according to DOJ. Bellamy is alleged to have obtained a PPP loan of more than $1.2 million for his own company, Drip Entertainment LLC. Augustin, Bellamy, and other conspirators in the scheme are alleged to have applied for PPP loans that are together worth more than $24 million.
Loan program ends, hard-hit businesses hope for 2nd chance
Small businesses are in limbo again as the coronavirus outbreak rages and the governments $659 billion relief program draws to a close. Congress is debating further help for small business as part of a broader coronavirus relief package. For example, the 50% requirement will leave out many small businesses, says Sean Kennedy, an executive vice president at the industry group National Restaurant Association. With the economy struggling, Koleas business is still down, and having spent all his loan money, hes hoping for a second loan. Krigman laid off staffers and rehired them when she got a PPP loan, but that money has been spent.
With loan money gone, restaurants are at mercy of coronvirus
John Pepper used a PPP loan to pay employees and reopen four of his eight Boloco restaurants when Massachusetts lifted its shutdown order in early May. But with the money spent and business at the restaurants down as much as 70%, Pepper had to again close two locations. With the PPP money we received, we were able to pay 48 employees but that has run out now, so we are left with very few alternatives for funding, Cea says. Jason Brauners restaurant, Bourbon Bistro, exhausted its PPP loan, is operating at 50% of capacity and not making enough to cover its expenses. Brauner is hoping to get a grant from the city and hed welcome another PPP loan.
Florida Democrats return PPP money
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The Florida Democratic Party applied for and received $780,000 from the Payroll Protection Program, but the party should not have applied in the first place. Criticism for accepting the PPP money has come from both inside and outside the Democratic Party. In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party said, in part: The bank, the loan processor and agents of the Small Business Association approved the funding. I really wish that the Trump administration was as responsive when it came to actually funding PPP, said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat. At least one Tallahassee lobbying firm has also returned PPP money.
Small business program scrutinized for loans to big firms
The PPP offered loans up to $10 million to companies with fewer than 500 employees. The most appealing aspect of the program: possible loan forgiveness if most of the money was spent on workers. But when the loans were first proposed, lawmakers described them as a rescue for small businesses and their employees. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin soon said the government would audit loans above $2 million, though some experts have their doubts. Aliera Companies, a private equity firm specializing in healthcare, got a $5 million to $10 million loan.
Sports jumps on PPP bandwagon, but big leagues take a pass
However, none of the four major North American sports leagues the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball were among the businesses that applied, according to the data. The data showed businesses that applied for and received loans, though some may not ultimately have taken the funds. An AP survey completed in May found 32 U.S. Olympic sports organizations about 70% of all federations had applied for PPP loans. With their seasons shut down, more than a dozen minor league baseball teams turned up on the PPP rolls. The Big South Conference, Conference USA, Southland Conference and Big Sky Conference all listed less than two dozen full-time employees, according to the data.
Heres the businesses that received federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. New data released Monday by the Small Business Administration shows about 14,000 Jacksonville-based companies received federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. Data shows 12,000 businesses received loans of less than $150,000, but several dozen were granted millions. The businesses that received $5-10 million includes Nextran Corp., Physicians Group Services, Stein Mart Inc., Vesta Property Services Inc, and others. In the $2-5 million dollar range include Celebration Church of Jacksonville, Farah and Farah, The Bolles School, Morgan and Morgan, and the Jacksonville Zoological Society. Dozens of restaurants were granted loans in the $150,000-$1 million range including, Firehouse Restaurant Group, Cowford Chophouse, Bonos of America, and Black Sheep.
Fed's program for loaning to Main Street off to slow start
In the months ahead, Main Street loans may prove a valuable resource for firms that were in sound financial condition prior to the pandemic, Powell said. Companies with up to 15,000 employees or $5 billion in revenue are eligible for Main Street. The Fed has said it will purchase up to $600 billion in Main Street loans from banks. Main Street loans currently have a rate slightly above 3%. Haith, meanwhile, said the interest rate on a Main Street loan is much lower than he would typically expect to pay, even in a healthy economy.
Coronavirus: New website offers Floridians financial advice
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three in four Floridians say they’re feeling more financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent survey found. Now credit unions, banks and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have teamed up to launch a new resource to help residents navigate these turbulent times. While most Floridians are feeling more financial strain from the pandemic, nearly half say they’re feeling significantly more. The site offers financial resources and advice, much of which is geared towards pandemic relief. Suncoast Credit Union CEO Kevin Johnson said learning how to create a six-month emergency fund is key in these times.
SBA opens 2nd round of Paycheck Protection Program applications
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Another $310 billion is being added to the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program so that lenders can offer more forgivable loans to small businesses. The second round of money is expected to go quickly. Bank of America reports they have $50 billion worth of applications ready to go through the second round. For example, BlueVine, Centerstone SBA Lending, Funding Circle, even PayPal are all accepting applications for PPP loans. On the SBA website, there is a page dedicated to showing you SBA-approved PPP lenders just by entering your ZIP code.