These Tampa Bay companies got hundreds of millions in small business PPP loans

From Lazydays RV to the Original Hooters, the first batch of paycheck loans made public spans a wide swath of Tampa Bay businesses.
The Hooters Management Group, which operates the Original Hooters at 2800 Gulf to Bay Blvd. in Clearwater, received between $2 million and $5 million from the Small Business Administration's Payroll Protection Program.
The Hooters Management Group, which operates the Original Hooters at 2800 Gulf to Bay Blvd. in Clearwater, received between $2 million and $5 million from the Small Business Administration's Payroll Protection Program. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes ]
Published July 6, 2020|Updated July 10, 2020

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses have received more than $521 billion in relief funding from the U.S. government.

On Monday, for the first time, the government announced who got the money.

The Department of the Treasury and Small Business Administration unveiled a partial yet sprawling trove of data about businesses receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans, which began in early April and were scheduled to last until the end of June, before the Senate voted last week to extend the deadline to Aug. 8.

At least 37 companies in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties received $5 million to $10 million, among them Crown Auto Dealerships, Lazydays RV and Morgan & Morgan’s Tampa office. The Tampa Bay companies in this range of aid reported more than 12,000 “jobs retained,” according to the Treasury data.

Nearly 250 additional companies in those counties received between $2 million and $5 million, including entities that operate landmarks like Bern’s Steak House, the Columbia, Lowry Park Zoo, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and the Original Hooters in Clearwater.

Combined, the Tampa Bay companies that got at least $2 million in aid received at least $685 million combined — likely much more — and that’s before factoring in tens of thousands of more local businesses that received less than $2 million apiece.

Florida businesses received 393,028 loans totaling $32 billion through June 30, according to the Treasury. The number of loans is second only to California, and the dollar figure is fourth, behind California, Texas and New York.

Related: Many Tampa Bay small businesses left out as $349 billion relief fund drained

By another metric, though, Florida did better than anyone — 96 percent of applicants’ payrolls were covered by the loans, according to the Treasury, the highest percentage of any state. The loans do not have to be repaid as long as they’re used for specific expenses, like employee salaries.

Monday’s list is far from a complete picture of who got what. The government released names and addresses only for organizations that received more than $150,000 — and even then, only ranges, not specific dollar figures. The higher-range loans represent nearly 75 percent of the money awarded thus far — but only 14 percent of the total number of loans.

The vast majority of loans, around 86 percent, went to businesses receiving $150,000 or less — and those were not identified by name. Nationwide, more than 291,000 went to businesses receiving $100,000 to $150,000; more than 673,000 went to businesses receiving $50,000 to $100,000; and 3.26 million went to businesses receiving $50,000 or less. Combined, those smaller loans still add up to $92.28 billion in aid.

In Florida, restaurants got 4.5 percent of the loans, the most of any category, followed by personal services (like hair and nail salons), law firms, consulting services and doctor’s offices.

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“It allowed us to survive,” said Neil Kiefer, president and CEO of the Hooters Management Group, which got just under $3 million.

The company — which operates Clearwater’s Original Hooters and more than two dozen locations in Tampa Bay, New York and Chicago — reduced its payroll by 40 or 50 percent through layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts. (That’s not including some 1,800 servers.)

“We didn’t apply right away,” Kiefer said, “but when we got orders to shut our restaurants for dine-in here in Florida, it was obviously apparent that we were not going to have revenues to keep people employed.”

The same was true at Ybor City’s historic Columbia restaurant, which shut its doors and relied on federal funding to assist staff.

“It allowed our 115-year-old family business to help our 1,400 employees during this crisis,” owners of the Columbia said in a statement Monday. “Through it, we could pay them while we were forced to close for at least two months and as we were gearing up to reopen — just as the program was designed.”

Related: ‘It didn’t feel right to keep it.’ Tampa Bay businesses refuse their federal loans.

Among those who voiced concerns about last week’s extension of the loan application program: Sen. Rick Scott, R-Naples, who proposed an amendment allowing loans only for businesses that can document “a substantial reduction in revenue.” The amendment did not pass.

“Sen. Scott is thankful that the Paycheck Protection Program has helped so many small businesses in Florida and across the nation stay afloat during this unimaginable time,” spokeswoman Sarah Schwirian said in an email.

She said Scott didn’t want companies that haven’t been harmed by the pandemic to receive forgivable federal funding, “which takes money away from those that truly need it.”

“He was disappointed (the amendment) wasn’t included in the extension. He will continue working to make sure those that have been hurt by this crisis get the help they need.”

Across Florida, 1,180 businesses received between $2 million and $5 million; 2,855 received between $1 million and $2 million; 11,987 received $350,000 to $1 million; and nearly 26,000 received between $150,000 and $350,000.

Many of the loans went to companies that have already been through layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions. In April, for example, Tampa’s Global Widget, LLC, informed the state it was making temporary furloughs permanent for 67 employees. According to the Treasury, Global Widget received $2 million to $5 million in loans.

The Times Holding Company, which encompasses the Tampa Bay Times and related publications, received $8.5 million.

So far, Kiefer’s dozen or so Hooters Management Corporation properties in Tampa Bay have returned nearly 100 percent of their workforce, earning about 75 percent of their revenues before the pandemic. The Chicago and New York restaurants are recovering more slowly, Kiefer said, but are on their way back.

“It’s been nice to be able to bring people back work and pay them,” Kiefer said. “But of course, with the current track the coronavirus may be taking, who knows if there will be another shutdown?”

Related: Here are the eyebrow-raising Paycheck Protection Program loans that went to the politically connected in Florida

The biggest winners

Fewer than 5,000 businesses nationwide received between $5 million and $10 million, for a total of nearly $34 billion. Nearly 200 of them were in Florida, including 37 in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties. They include:

AgileThought LLC, Tampa

APG Electric, Inc., Clearwater

Ardurra Group, Inc., Tampa

Avesta Homes, LLC, Tampa

Bentley Global Resources, LLC, Tarpon Springs

Bisk Education, Inc., Tampa

Buffalo Lodging Associates, LLC, University Park

Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig, LLP, Tampa

Central Maintenance and Welding, Lithia

Crown Auto Dealerships, Inc., St. Pete

DSK Resourcing, Inc., Homosassa

Florida Medical Clinic LLC, Zephyrhills

GA Food Services of Pinellas County, St. Petersburg

Gardner-Gibson, Inc., Tampa

Geographic Solutions, Inc., Palm Harbor

Harrell’s, LLC, Lakeland

Healthesystems, LLC, Tampa

Hillcour, Inc., Tampa

HSP Southern Healthcare LLC, Tampa

JTS Enterprises of Tampa, LTD, Tampa

Keenan, Hopkins, Schmidt, Stowell Contractors, Inc., Tampa

LDRV Holdings Corp., Seffner

Loop, LLC, Clearwater

MS Industrial, LLC, Lakeland

McNICHOLS Company, Tampa

Morgan & Morgan, Tampa P.A., Tampa

Orthopaedic Solutions Management, Temple Terrace

Phase Three Star, LLC, DBA Hardees, Tampa

Physician Partners of America LLC, Tampa

Pinnacle Home Care Holdings, LLC, Oldsmar

Precision Personnel, Inc., Clearwater

Regal Automotive Group, Inc., Lakeland

System Soft Technologies, LLC, Tampa

Tampa Bay Systems Sales Inc., Tampa

Taw Holdings Group, Inc., Riverview

Times Holding Company, St. Petersburg

U.S. Water Services Corporation, New Port Richey

Related: Tom Brady’s personal brand approved for PPP loan

Times staff writer Ian Hodgson contributed to this report.

Corrections: McLain Foods Inc. of St. Petersburg received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000. Harmony Healthcare, LLC, withdrew its application during the loan process. Due to errors in data from the federal government, earlier versions of this story incorrectly said the companies received between $5 million and $10 million.

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