By Harriet Alexander for DailyMail.com
Small business owners are demanding that fresh funding for their struggling sector be tightly restricted, amid rising anger at large corporations claiming millions in aid.
An initial $347 billion in federal funding ran out last week, leaving tens of thousands of American entrepreneurs in the lurch until a deal to replenish it is signed into law by Donald Trump, which should happen Thursday.
But small businesses’ dismay was compounded by revelations that big nationwide chains were walking away with millions under the Payment Protection Program (PPP), while they were abandoned.
Small businesses are generally defined as having fewer than 500 employees, but the large companies have found loopholes in the terms of the deals and have been able to apply.
At least 75 companies whose applications were successful are publicly traded, and some have market values of well over $100 million.
Angel Criado, who with his wife Cree owns and runs a dance studio in Cleveland, Ohio, told DailyMail.com they have no received aid
Susan Cybulski, a 53-year-old graphic designer, has yet to receive any support for her Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company that specializes in event design
At least five successful applicants were being investigated by financial regulators, and a quarter of the sample of thousands of regulators’ filings had already warned months ago that they may not be able to stay afloat.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, with more than 150 locations and $86 million in cash reserves, confirmed they were given $20 million.
The Chicago-based sandwich chain Potbelly, whose most recent financial disclosures show revenues of $102 million, said they received a $10 million loan.
Burger chain Shake Shack, which reported nearly $600 million in revenue for 2019, claimed $10 million. On Monday, amid growing outrage, the company announced it was giving it back.
Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, said that 74 per cent of the 1.6 million loans that banks approved under the PPP scheme were for less than $150,000.
He said this showed ‘the accessibility of this program to even the smallest of small businesses.’
But Donald Trump admitted to problems and said some cash which has gone to big business might have to be clawed back.
Small business owners told DailyMail.com of their frustrating attempts to keep their businesses alive, while large firms flourished.
‘This is the sort of thing that drives me up the wall,’ said Angel Criado, who with his wife Cree owns and runs a dance studio in Cleveland, Ohio.
‘I just don’t get it. You’d have thought big companies like that would have had reserves?’
Criado, 50, had his business shut down due to COVID-19 on March 21 and applied to his bank – US Bank- for funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) on March 30.
‘The minute they opened the gates I was on it,’ he told DailyMail.com.
His application for a $10,000 grant through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) scheme was rejected, after the SBA ruled that he had an unsatisfactory credit history. He had expanded his business in 2017, and so his personal credit rating ‘took a hit,’ he said.
Then on April 16 he received an email from his bank.
‘They said: ”hey, we’re out of money!”
Tara Lynn Baeza, 35, said she was ’emotional and angry’ at small businesses being left to collapse, while nationwide corporations are bailed out. Baeza owns Birds of Prey, which specializes in permanent makeup for clinical patients as well as an assortment of wellness treatments
‘I guess US Bank couldn’t get anyone through, because I was there right at the beginning – they said it was first come, first served, and I was among the first.
‘It makes me so mad that these huge companies get help and we don’t. They have whole teams of people working purely on getting their hands on this money. I just want to make a living for my family.’
The SBA say they have worked with 5,000 lenders to issue the loans and grants, but are yet to say how much of that money has actually been distributed.
They did not respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiry as to whether loopholes allowing large companies to apply would now be closed.
Susan Cybulski, a 53-year-old graphic designer, is also yet to receive any support for her Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company, InPrint, which specializes in event design.
In the second week of March she lost $15,000 worth of contracts and, in the subsequent weeks, her remaining work has ‘evaporated’.
On Monday the University of Michigan, her biggest client, emailed to say there would be no more work for ‘non-essential contractors’, meaning she is facing the very real likelihood of being unemployed for the rest of the year.
Cybulski applied for the EIDL immediately and was given a confirmation number, but is yet to hear back.
She had all her application documents for PPP prepared last week, and then the screen switched, she said, to: ‘We’re sorry, but all funds are exhausted.’
Big corporations receiving support through the programs ‘really angers me,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘But it doesn’t surprise me.
‘Ten years ago, during the downturn, I lost my home. I worked so hard and jumped through all the hoops to save it, but they repossessed it – despite having 11 years of equity in there.
‘I saw what they did then, and it felt so unjust. This doesn’t surprise me now.’
Congress is expected to approve a further $350 billion in support this week, with a Senate vote Tuesday and House vote Thursday to send it to Trump.
But concerns linger that the support will once again go to large companies.
More than 12,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging Congress to ensure the money only goes to small businesses.
Duncan MacDonald-Korth, who founded the COVID Loan Tracker, told DailyMail.com he launched the petition on Saturday night and has been astonished at the anger it has unleashed.
Around 700 people are signing per hour, he said, and Change.org got in touch to tell them how overwhelming the response had been.
Tara Lynn Baeza, 35, said she was ’emotional and angry’ at small businesses being left to collapse, while nationwide corporations are bailed out.
Her Philadelphia-based salon Birds of Prey, which specializes in permanent makeup for clinical patients as well as an assortment of wellness treatments, was closed on March 16.
She has applied for a gamut of funding from various agencies, but is losing $5,000 a week and is yet to receive any support.
‘It makes me so mad that these huge corporations get help and we don’t,’ she said. ‘I’m a member of a small business association in Philadelphia and everyone is saying the same thing – that they’ve been denied, or not heard back.
‘It really doesn’t feel like the system was set up for this.’