The half-trillion-dollar loan program advertised as a lifesaver for the country’s struggling small businesses is again under fire after the Small Business Administration (SBA) on Monday released a list containing hundreds of recipients of the program, revealing that several private equity-backed chains owned by members of Congress and dozens of publicly traded companies and corporations received millions.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—first drew scrutiny after it quickly burned through its initial $350 billion allocations by helping large public companies secure multi-million dollar loans while several small businesses missed out. There’s also the fact that the big banks administering the program on behalf of the government are expected to net hundreds of millions of dollars in fees.
If at least 75 percent of the loan is used for payroll, it becomes “forgivable,” according to the SBA.
Here are a few of the companies which received large or otherwise notable loans in the North Bay:
— Ygrene Energy Fund, a Petaluma company that offers energy efficiency financing and has received millions of dollars in venture capital investments, according to news reports, received a loan of between $5 and $10 million to cover 229 employees.
— The Francis Ford Coppola Winery, named for its movie-director owner and based in Geyserville, received a loan of between $5 and $10 million to cover 469 employees.
— The parent company of Napa County’s French Laundry restaurant received a $2 to $5 million loan for 163 employees. Thomas Keller, the company’s owner and celebrity chef, is suing his insurance company for failing to pay for losses due to the pandemic.
— Piatti Restaurant Company, which owns and operates Mill Valley’s high-end Italian restaurant, received a $2 to $5 million loan for 459 employees.
— 23 Bottles of Beer, LLC, the parent company of the North Bay’s Russian River Brewing Company, received a $2 to $5 million loan for 196 employees.
— The Girl and the Fig, a popular restaurant in the city of Sonoma, received between $1 and $2 million for 138 employees.
— Then there are the politicians. According to Bloomberg News, Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the longtime San Francisco congresswoman, holds an 8.1 percent stake in the San Rafael-based EDI Associates. EDI in turn has an investment in the El Dorado Hotel, located in the city of Sonoma. EDI Associates received a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million for 52 employees. A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg that Paul Pelosi was “not involved in or even aware of this PPP loan.”
— Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican who represents the Central Valley, has reportedly outdone Pelosi on the loan front. Nunes owns a stake in Alpha Omega Winery, according to financial disclosure forms. The St. Helena winery received a $1 to $2 million loan for an unreported number of employees.