Bowing to pressure from critics over its handling of more than $500 billion in coronavirus relief funds, the Small Business Administration today released a trove of data about the recipients of loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, including full business names and addresses for companies that received loans of $150,000 or more.
The list was made public on the U.S. Treasury’s website in a downloadable spreadsheet along with a lengthy explanation about what viewers should—and should not—glean from the information.
“PPP loans are not made by SBA,” the agency points out in a fact sheet accompanying the data. “PPP loans are made by lending institutions and then guaranteed by SBA. Accordingly, borrowers apply to lenders and self-certify that they are eligible for PPP loans.”
The program, established by the federal CARES Act in March as a way to help small businesses maintain payroll and other approved expenses during the pandemic, was criticized early on after a number of big-dollar loans went to companies that were not all that small, including publicly traded restaurant giants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Many of those companies ended up returning the funds to avoid further backlash or even the risk of fraud charges.
In addition to the names of businesses, the data released today includes information about lending institutions, loan sizes (within a specific range), and voluntarily submitted demographic data. It also includes state-by-state data for smaller loans, although in those cases, business names and addresses are not included for privacy reasons.
According to the SBA, more than 4.8 million PPP loans were approved through June 30, with the average loan size being $107,000.