More than 13,000 Minnesota employers received at least $150,000 in loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released this week — including a handful of firms owned by state legislators.
Four state legislators have ownership stake in companies that received PPP loans, while another nine work for organizations that received loans, a Reformer analysis found.
Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore, said in a statement that the loan allowed his company 3 Cheers Hospitality — which includes a catering business, three restaurants and a college food service — to save 40 jobs. The restaurants were closed for weeks under Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, and the catering business is still suffering, he said.
“We are complying with every requirement of the program, and 100 percent of the funds were used on payroll, utilities and rent,” Poston said in the statement.
The law firm Maschka Riedy Ries and Frentz, where Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato is a partner, received a $150,000-350,000 loan. Frentz said in a statement that he’s not involved in day-to-day management of the firm because of his Senate duties, but said the firm used the loan in accordance with program requirements.
Golden Shovel Agency, the economic development business owned by Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, received a $150,000-350,000 loan, as did William Miller Scrap Iron & Metal Co., owned by Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona. Kresha and Miller didn’t respond to a request for comment. Miller told the Associated Press that the loan helped his company stay afloat when business dropped 60%.
In total, more than 98,000 loans were issued to Minnesota businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, intended to help small businesses weather the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 85% of the loans to Minnesota organizations — 84,417 altogether — were less than $150,000. The federal government withheld the names of the businesses that received these smaller loans, and for loans over $150,000, published amount ranges rather than specific values.
The loans between $150,000 and $10 million supported more than 711,000 jobs in Minnesota, according to the PPP data. But the records also show that 602 Minnesota firms reported they would retain zero jobs with the money, and another 575 left the question blank. For their loans to be forgiven, companies are required to show how many jobs they saved with the money.
A wide range of businesses and nonprofits received loans in Minnesota, including hundreds of health care providers, restaurants and private schools; as well as breweries, bowling alleys and golf courses.
The private schools are known for educating some of the region’s wealthiest children. The Blake School, which charges $31,790 in tuition for an elementary schooler, received a $2-5 million loan. Holy Family Catholic High School, where tuition is over $15,000, got a $350,000-1 million loan. A $1-2 million loan went to Academy of Holy Angels.
More than 200 religious organizations received loans as well, among them the Living Word Christian Center, pastored by Mac Hammond, a minister of the so-called “prosperity Gospel.” Hammond reminds the public on his Twitter page that “God wants you to be a winner in every area of life.” His church Living Word Christian Center was a winner of a $2-5 million PPP loan.
A number of nonprofits were awarded loans, including the Wilder Foundation and the Greater Twin Cities United Way. A $150,000-$350,000 loan went to the nonprofit Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank that says it “crafts and proposes creative solutions that emphasize free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility and government accountability.”
Click through the slides below for a breakdown of Minnesota PPP data, plus a searchable table to look through all 13,719 organizations that received loans.