As days go by, Americans are learning that billion-dollar corporations are receiving funding from the Paycheck Protection Program which was intended to provide Federal Government assistance to help small businesses due to COVID- 19.
The $349 Billion Paycheck Protection Program designed for small businesses, was depleted within two weeks with thousands of small business not receiving any of the funds. Meanwhile, large restaurant chains Shake Shack and the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, benefited millions from the program. Both companies have since returned the funding.
However, over 200 corporations have decided to keep the funding, including Bennett — Ashford Inc., Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts. The company said they would not return any money, saying programs like PPP are essential to keeping them afloat. The company has received $69 million from the program. According to the Dallas Morning News, “the three companies had combined revenue last year of $2.2 billion. Ashford Hospitality Trust’s portfolio includes 117 hotels, primarily branded as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Intercontinental, and 90 condominiums at WorldQuest Resort in Orlando, FL.”
This week, it was learned that the Lakers basketball team received a $4.6 million loan but decided to give it back and released the following statement, “Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”
The Lakers are the eighth wealthiest sports team in the world, worth an estimated $3.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
As Black businesses suffer tremendously due to COVID-19, the Congressional Black Caucus, under the leadership of Congressmember Karen Bass, recently held a telephone town hall meeting for small business to address the problem and provide resources that are available due to COVID-19.
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) said, “the CBC has always understood that Black-owned and other small businesses ‘are the backbone of America.’” The call addressed concerns and gave an update on resources available in the latest package that was passed. Congress recently approved an additional $320 billion that rolls out starting Monday.
Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Finance Committee, was instrumental in making sure they carved-out in the package resources for small community banks and credit unions, which ensures that there’s an opportunity for the institutions to support their customers during a financial crisis, according to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
The Congressional Black Caucus also issued the following statement in response to the emergency Interim Aid Bill from the Senate:
“The Congressional Black Caucus supports the additional resources for small businesses included in the latest federal response to COVID-19 and congratulates Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership for ensuring the inclusion of $75 billion in emergency funding for hospitals and $25 billion to increase testing and contact tracing. We also support the inclusion of $60 billion for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program to assist small lenders and community-based financial institutions.
These needed resources will serve the needs of minority-owned businesses and underserved small businesses and nonprofits. Moreover, the $30 billion for Minority Depository Institutions, Community Development Financial Institutions, community lenders, and small community banks and credit unions is welcomed relief. Additionally, this legislation provides $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and $10 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant Program. However, much more needs to be done; for example, neither this bill nor the last bill included funding for the majority of the nation’s cities as resources were provided only for cities with populations greater than 500,000. There are only 33 cities in the country with populations of that size.”
For information regarding resources for small businesses visit sba.gov or www.cbc.house.gov.