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Ahead of Second Round of PPP, Small Business Owners Enraged by Largest First Round PPP Payouts

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That new stimulus relief bill includes $284 billion for small businesses through the SBA’s flagship forgivable relief loan – the Paycheck Protection Program - or PPP for short.

So before the president signs the second wave of relief into law, NBC 7 Investigates did a deep dive into who got the most money here in San Diego the first time around.

You can tell Bad Madge & Company owner Tanya McAnear loves her job - a job she said she might not have without her $8,500 PPP loan.

"I feel like it literally saved my business,” said McAnear.

But she knows other businesses got shut out while other San Diego companies were able to get tens of millions of dollars in loans.

“That is so disappointing,” McAnear said in response to NBC 7's findings. “Disappointment from our government that they didn't have enough oversight to look at who was getting these loans, and did they really need them."

NBC 7 Investigates found some of the San Diego companies with the largest loans are ones you might not expect.

Epsilon Systems Solutions, an IT defense contractor, and Kleinfelder Group, an infrastructure project management firm, were both able to get $10 million in loans.

Trademark Construction, Millennium Health (a testing lab) and Mission Healthcare Services (a home and hospice care company) got between $8.6 million and $9.3 million.

Other companies took out loans with different banks.

For example, Road Runner Sports took out loans through at least three different banks for nearly $9 million, putting them towards the top of the largest PPP borrowers in San Diego.

NBC 7 reached out to Road Runner for comment and got no response. Actually, none of the companies we just mentioned responded to our request for an interview.

Other organizations that got millions in PPP money include religious institutions.

San Diego Rock Church got $3 million, Jewish Family Service of San Diego got $2.9 million and the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego got $2.4 million.

Jewish Family Service CEO Michael Hopkins sent a NBC 7 the statement below:

Jewish Family Service of San Diego is a human service agency committed to helping individuals and families facing challenges move forward. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency quickly adapted, revised, and expanded its critical services, including food assistance through a no-touch drive-thru weekday distribution, meal delivery and at-home support for seniors, safe spaces for people living out of their vehicles, and financial assistance for those struggling with lost wages. The PPP loan provided stability during the COVID-19 crisis and was used to support the more than 300 employees and utilities that make these critical services happen every day.

During the pandemic, our dedicated employees have been on the frontlines, delivering over 1 million meals to older adults, distributing an additional 388,000 meals to families at the JFS campus, and assisting more than 1,000 individuals living in their cars, among multiple other programs. We are thankful to the community whose continued support is critical to providing much needed relief to thousands of vulnerable San Diegans during this unprecedented time, including many who have never asked for help before.

A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego sent a statement saying in part:

“The PPP program was passed by Congress and signed by the President as an emergency measure to protect jobs and spending power so that our economy would not be destroyed by the pandemic and that millions of families would be spared from hardship and job loss.

“The diocese applied for PPP funds as did millions of other employers nationwide. As a result, hundreds of jobs at local Catholic schools were saved and nearly 14,000 students were able to continue their education without disruption.

“We used the PPP money for its intended purpose, i.e. to purchase PPE, to keep families safe and preserve jobs. We are profoundly grateful this program existed and that we were able to keep our teachers and other workers employed.“

The Rock Church sent a lengthy response that said in part:

COVID-19 has posed multiple challenges in regards to funding for various organizations. Some of the financial challenges Rock Church has faced include a decrease in tithes and offerings because of an increase in job loss and unemployment in the community. Some of the unforeseeable costs that have incurred during this time are increased production, technology, and IT support as well as the COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan. In addition, Rock Academy, a private K-12 and a part of Rock Church, has incurred additional expenses for staffing and programming to meet the requirements for smaller class sizes and social distancing mandated in California.

To help support the needs in this season, Rock Church chose to take advantage of multiple programs available to help businesses and organizations in this season, including deferred payments and the PPP program. With the support of these programs, Rock Church did not have to lay-off or furlough any of their employees due to the financial health of the organization.

The San Diego Blood Bank got $2.6 million in PPP money.

“It was a disaster,” said Steve Sefton, president of Endeavor Bank in Carlsbad about the first day of the PPP loan program.

Ultimately though, the bank facilitated more than 860 PPP loans.

“The program as a whole was a success in my own opinion,” Sefton said. “An incredible success, for getting that much money out to that many businesses to save that many employees.”

However, due to that rushed timeline, Sefton concedes he was worried some borrowers would take advantage of the program – a forgivable federal relief loan intended to help small business owners pay their workers and rent.

“I’m very concerned companies would cheat,” said Sefton. “They do. We know this.”

In fact, a new Inspector General Report found that the SBA gave out at least $43 million dollars nationwide to companies who were not in fact eligible for PPP money.

The new stimulus plan allows businesses who already got a PPP loan, to apply again for this second round of PPP money if they can show losses of 25% or higher in 2020 compared to last year.

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