.Santa Cruz County Companies Bring in Millions in Recovery Loans

Recipients of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program are now public, and more than 4,000 businesses and nonprofits have benefited from the federal assistance. 

Three Santa Cruz County operations took in forgivable loans in the $5 million to $10 million range—Monterey Mushrooms, the Salud Para La Gente health clinic and a nutritional supplement company called Threshold Enterprises.

Nineteen local companies and nonprofits secured recovery loans between $2 million to $5 million, including First Alarm, Encompass Community Services, the skate company NHS, Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, Verve Coffee Roasters, Martinelli’s, J.J.’s Saloon, and the alcohol distributor Elixir. 

A longer list—47 others—took in loans of $1 million to $2 million locally. That list includes Seascape Resort, Twin Lakes Baptist Church and Good Times’ parent company, which owns a total of 14 publications from Hollister to Santa Rosa. 

Many, but not all, of the recipients shut down for weeks after Santa Cruz County’s pandemic-related shelter-in-place order took effect. Three grocery stores—Deluxe Foods, Shopper’s Corner and Staff of Life—secured loans of $350,000-$1 million.

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The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security—or CARES—Act. The program first drew scrutiny after quickly burning through its initial $350 billion allocation, in part by helping large public companies secure multi-million dollar loans while many small businesses missed out. Congress extended the program and expanded it to help more small businesses. 

The government will forgive loans for businesses that follow a few key provisions—most notably paying at least 60% of the funds on payroll within 24 weeks of obtaining their loan.

The half-trillion-dollar loan program was advertised as a lifesaver for the country’s struggling small businesses as they trudged through the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns. The full list of recipients earned a second round nationwide attention this week, as it contained publicly traded corporations, private equity-backed chains owned by members of Congress and businesses with ties to President Donald Trump’s friends, family and associates.

Some publicly traded companies, like Shake Shack, gave back their PPP money after public outcry. In all, the program has distributed roughly $520 billion through about 4.9 million recovery loans, according to the Small Business Administration. Roughly $130 billion still sits unclaimed. Small business owners have until Aug. 8 to apply for a PPP loan.

To see the full list of recipients that received a loan of at least $150,000 click here. Click here for information on loans given that were worth less than $150,000, but the SBA has withheld the names.

Update June 14 3:50pm: Calvary Episcopal Church was removed from the list of businesses helped by sizable PPP loans. Rev. Austin Leininger, the church’s rector, believes the Small Business Administration must have made a decimal error. Leininger says the church’s actual loan was an order of magnitude smaller.

Update July 27 6:50pm: GT spoke with Michael Harrison, who owns Michael’s on Main. He too says his loan was much smaller than what the Small Business Administration reported. We have removed mention of the restaurant’s loan from the above story. Many businesses across the country have said that the data released by the SBA about the size of their loans was erroneous.


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Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.
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