After months of calls for more transparency, information is made public about the nearly five million businesses that have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program. Though questions will remain.
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After months of withholding information on exactly which businesses received precisely how much from Congress’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — and considerable consternation after multiple publicly held companies were outed for accepting sizable sums before ultimately returning them — the Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Department of the Treasury today released detailed information on nearly five million PPP grantees. The sum total of loans amounts to in excess of $521 billion, and in a statement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin remarked, “The PPP is providing much-needed relief to millions of American small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs and over 80 percent of all small business employees, who are the drivers of economic growth in our country.”He then added, “We are particularly pleased that 27 percent of the program’s reach in low- and moderate-income communities, which is in proportion to percentage of population in these areas. The average loan size is approximately $100,000, demonstrating that the program is serving the smallest of businesses.”Related: SBA Releases New EZ PPP Loan-Forgiveness ApplicationDespite the sudden rush to transparency, there is bound to be intense scrutiny. Some mom-and-pop restaurant owners, for example, might wonder why between $2-5 million — the information was released both by state and assorted loan-amount thresholds, ultimately ranging from less than $150,000 to as high as $10 million — was allocated to the Diocese of Alabama in Birmingham. And a cursory scan through the available documents (as user-unfriendly as the process of downloading and parsing through them might be) indicates a very small minority of owners willingly answered questions about their race, ethnicity or gender, and that a minority of overall respondents identified their businesses as black-owned or female-owned. The SBA’s language concerning the disclosures is also a bit convoluted, at one point assuring, “This disclosure covers each of the 4.9 million PPP loans that have been made,” but later adding that its various loan amounts “account for nearly 75 percent of the loan dollars approved.” Furthermore, the single document purporting to contain information across all 50 states in alpahabetical order currently concludes after California. Related: Which Public Companies Have Returned Their SBA PPP Loans? (Updated)Entrepreneur emailed the SBA earlier this month when the forthcoming disclosure was first announced, seeking clarity on whether any loans exceeded $10 million — and if so, whether their information would ever be made public — but did not hear back. We’ve since followed up to additionally clarify whether the aforementioned 50-state document will be appended. We will update you when we have more to share.