Massive church buildings, elite legislation companies, personal colleges get COVID loans – Information – The Palm Seashore Submit

Big churches, elite law firms, private schools get COVID loans - News - The Palm Beach Post

In Palm Beach County, some of the largest loans went to some of the best known and wealthiest law firms.

Some of the largest churches, elite law firms, and private schools in Palm Beach County have received millions in state aid under a loan program designed to help coronavirus pandemic troubled companies, while popular local charities and restaurants have mostly applied for six-figure loans. based on data recently released by the Small Business Administration.

Congress launched the Pay Check Protection Program to help small businesses stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic. Details of the $ 660 billion aid program recently released under pressure from Congress and the media reveal loans approved for wealthy and well-connected businesses in Palm Beach County.

The identity of companies approved for less than $ 150,000 has not been released. Employers have been named who have approved amounts in excess of $ 150,000 and up to $ 10 million.

The data do not reflect the actual amounts for the loans, but indicate a range approved by the lenders. In some cases, companies borrowed less than approved by lenders.

The loans were available to employers with fewer than 500 employees who could demonstrate economic harm due to the closure of the coronavirus business. Employers also had to indicate how many jobs the loans would save.

As of June 30, 393,028 loans in Florida saved a total of $ 32 billion in Florida, saving 3.2 million jobs, according to the SBA. A total of 96 percent of the state's estimated small business wages were covered by PPP loans – the highest in the country, according to SBA data.

Only three other states have received more money than Florida – California, New York and Texas. An estimated 175,000 workers were employed in Palm Beach County with loans of at least $ 150,000.

The program was heavily criticized when the loan pool dried up and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed large nationwide companies with thousands of employees who had received millions in loans.

Loans returned included: Shake Shack, $ 10 million; Drive Shack $ 5.2 million; Fiesta Restaurant Group, owner and franchisor of Pollo Tropical and other fast food restaurants, $ 15 million; the Los Angeles Lakers, $ 4.6 million; and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse $ 20 million, according to a list compiled by NBC News.

Law firms

In Palm Beach County, some of the largest loans went to some of the best known and wealthiest law firms.

Gunster law firm, with offices in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, qualified for one of the largest loans of up to $ 10 million. The company's customers include US Sugar, FPL, AT&T and Well Fargo, according to the company's website. The loan was approved by a Gunster customer, Capital City Bank.

Gunster did not respond to a request for comment. The amount of the loan and how the company used it is not known. According to SBA data, Gunster was able to keep 424 jobs with the loan.

Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, the law firm led by well-known litigation leader David Boies, has also been approved for a maximum loan of $ 10 million. The company's customer list includes Facebook, the New York Yankees, Chevron and NASCAR.

Boise negotiated billions of dollars in settlements for American Express in antitrust suits and is best known in Florida for his unsuccessful representation of former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in the November 2000 litigation dispute.

Although the company has 14 offices in the United States and London, the request was made through one of its smaller offices in Fort Lauderdale. A company spokesman said the company is not commenting on its finances. The loan helped the company keep 490 employees, according to SBA data.

West Palm Beach law firm Jones Foster has been approved for a loan of up to $ 2 million, which the firm said would help in its application to create jobs for 76 employees. When asked how much money the company had received and how it was used, Lara Hillman, marketing director of the company, said the company "preferred not to comment".

Other local law firms that received up to $ 2 million in loans were West Palm Beach law firms Lewis, Longman & Walker with five offices in Florida and Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. Neither company responded to requests for comments.


Three of the county's most expensive and exclusive private schools received the largest of the 47 loans that went to local private and religious schools.

St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, and Oxbridge Academy, founded by Palm Beach billionaire Bill Koch, have raised a maximum of $ 5 million.

The Benjamin School, attended by children of golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Greg Norman, received a $ 3.1 million loan, according to a statement released by the school.

The school is non-profit and has 201 full-time faculties and staff. Tuition fees range from $ 18,150 for preschool and kindergarten to $ 31,550 for high school. According to its website, the school currently has $ 16 million in savings and cash investments.

"Because of COVID-19, the school's finances have been significantly impacted," the statement said. "By taking out this loan, the school was able to keep our teachers and staff busy at this time of uncertainty."

Churches and schools of faith

Nationwide, 88,411 religious groups received $ 7.3 billion in loans, saving 1 million jobs, according to the SBA. Local loans went to churches and schools of different denominations

The Mega-Church Christ Fellowship received a loan of between $ 2 and $ 5 million, according to the PR firm that represents the church. The church declined to disclose the amount of the loan or its use. On her loan application, the church said the money would save 448 employees' jobs.

SBA data showed that Grace Fellowship, a church affiliated with the Berean Christian School, qualified for a $ 10 million loan. A church official said, however, that the church was not approved for this amount and received only a "small fraction" of that amount. The actual amount that the Church has received is not known.

Seven Catholic schools, including Cardinal Newman High School, Pope John Paul II, and the Rosarian Academy and three Catholic churches also received loans, along with the Palm Beach Diocese, which was approved for a $ 2 million loan.

Other churches, temples, and synagogues that have received loans include the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, where President Donald Trump attends services, the Beth El Temple in Boca Raton, the Torat Emet Temple in Boynton Beach , the Reform Temple of Jupiter and Tequesta and Temple Emanu-el in Palm Beach.

Nonprofit organizations

Traditionally, nonprofits are not eligible to receive SBA-guaranteed small business loans, but the PPP has given many nonprofits access to credit to support their employees.

The Lord’s Place, one of the district’s leading agencies providing homeless services, has kept 141 employees on the payroll thanks to the $ 1.2 million PPP loan received, said CEO Diana Stanley.

The pandemic forced the group's second-hand shops and catering companies to close. With 20 percent of the former homeless at the center, Stanley said it was particularly important to keep the paychecks up.

"I don't know what we would have done without it," said Stanley. "We don't want anyone to work for us and then suddenly need services at the front door."

Other essential community groups received far less. Palm Beach County Food Bank, the Child Protection Team, Seagull Industries for the Disabled and COMPASS, an LGBTQ resource center in Lake Worth, received loans below $ 350,000.

Big business

Two well-known local media companies, whose leaders are linked to President Trump, have also qualified for seven-digit loans. Newsmax, the conservative media empire founded by Christopher Ruddy, a Mar-a-Lago member and friend of the President, received a loan of between $ 2 million and $ 5 million.

Three companies from American Media Inc., publishers of the National Enquirer, Globe, Men’s Journal and Soap Opera Digest, have been approved for loans up to $ 5 million. AMI publisher David Pecker made headlines in 2018 for his role in a catch-and-kill operation to acquire exclusive rights to stories that Trump, a long-time friend, could embarrass.

Neither Newsmax nor AMI replied to requests for comments.

Two large construction companies in West Palm Beach also received large loans. Both Kast Construction Company and Maschmeyer Concrete qualified for a maximum loan of $ 10 million.

Randy Hough, CFO of Maschmeyer, said the company does not comment on certain financial matters, but the loan has enabled the company to work for over 400 full pay and benefit employees, despite the company's largest project ever being put on hold .

The loan also allowed the company to continue small projects that kept subcontractors at work, Hough said.

"In many cases, our team members have told us that they are the only ones in their family who are still working," said Hough.


From upscale restaurants to lunch tables, restaurants were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Almost 300 restaurants and businesses that own several restaurants have applied for loans in Palm Beach County.

Only one, Duffy & # 39; s Holdings, qualified for a $ 10 million loan. Five others received loans up to $ 5 million. In total, sixty-two percent received loans of no more than $ 350,000.

On the list with less than $ 350,000, Howley & # 39; s is the funky West Palm Beach Diner that offered unemployed food service workers thousands of free meals even though their own doors were closed.

Buccan in Palm Beach, another remarkable restaurant that prepared and packaged more than 75,000 social services meals in the early days of the pandemic, qualified for a $ 1 million loan.

Data reporter Chris Persaud contributed to this story.


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