AUSTIN (KXAN) — A spokesperson with the U.S. Small Business Administration said Tuesday the list of businesses receiving loans through the Paycheck Prevention Program likely won’t be released to the public.
There have been calls for more transparency from lawmakers after reports that the first round of loans were given to large corporations instead of small businesses.
Congress made an additional $310 billion available in loans to small businesses, and $175 billion of that money has been approved in one week. Rules were also created ahead of the second wave of payouts to give small businesses more of a chance at the coronavirus relief money.
“Right now I can confidently say that the agency is processing loans a lot faster,” said David Elizondo, Deputy District Director of the SBA’s San Antonio office.
With seven employees, Crestview’s Violet Crown Clubhouse is about as small a business as it gets.
Co-owner Mike Lavigne says it was always his dream to own an arcade.
“Ms. Pac-Man is my jam, I’d say,” Lavigne said as he took us through the converted pharmacy that hasn’t been open since March. The business has a nostalgic feel to it with many of the same keepsakes from the 1950s.
The struggles many local business owners are facing during the coronavirus economy aren’t unique to Lavigne.
“The vendors we use, I know our ice cream supplier is hurting,” he said.
He tells KXAN he applied for a PPP loan application, but missed out on the first wave of payments.
In the last couple of weeks, he went back and forth with Chase Bank after a frustrating online experience. He then told the bank Monday he was speaking with KXAN.
“I got funded about 10 minutes later, so that’s lucky,” he said.
He’ll use the modest $7,500 loan to pay his employees, pay rent and keep the lights on.
Businesses have had different experiences, depending on who you speak with.
Martin Leggett is the CEO of New Canvassing Experience, which fundraises for nonprofits.
He told us he had a trusted banker at Chase who helped him navigate the process and get a loan during the first round, but even that wasn’t without bumps in the road.
“When it was first supposed to happen the site didn’t work,” he said. “But I had somebody I could call to figure out what was actually going on.”
Many small business owners have experienced confusion and frustration navigating the PPP loan process. A number of local businesses tell KXAN they’re still waiting on their payments to stay afloat.
Lavigne said he quickly realized he didn’t have the financial acumen or connections of larger financial institutions.
“It’s just me and my laptop over there,” he laughed.
Lawmakers are calling for the full list of businesses who received loans to understand the full picture of who is getting funds and who is being left out.
Even though the Small Business Administration has these records, Elizondo says they likely won’t be released, adding this hasn’t been the norm during previous disasters.
“We’ll stick to probably the county information,” he said in an interview with KXAN.
He’s referring to a list of the number of businesses by state and county, which he says will come out after all the payouts have been made.
When pressed why the full list of businesses wouldn’t be released, Elizondo cited the “number of loans being approved, the number of loans still being processed.”
KXAN reached out to some of the largest banks in the country for this story.
“We continue to process and submit applications at a good pace to help as many customers as possible,” said a Chase Bank spokesperson.
Chase announced this week it has received approval for an additional 211,000 loans during the second round of PPP loan payouts, totaling about $15 billion.
In Texas, that includes 27,400 businesses getting an average loan of $120,000.
“The vast majority of loans Chase submitted to the SBA were funded last week,” added the spokesperson. “No business or client segment was prioritized over another.”
Wells Fargo told KXAN it does not have specific numbers on loan payouts in Texas, but that it had submitted more than 100,000 applications to the SBA as of April 27.
A bank spokesperson said that 75% of the applications sent to the federal government are from companies with fewer than 10 employees, and 90% are from companies with fewer than 25 employees.
Bank of America did not respond to KXAN questions as of Tuesday afternoon.