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PPP loans in Chicago: The inside story of who got what

With generous terms and at a time of unprecedented panic as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns crippled the economy, 202,157 Illinois employers received federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.

From Atlas Financial Holdings — incorporated in the Cayman Islands with its “principal executive offices” in Schaumburg — to the Joffrey Ballet to Kivvit, the public affairs firm, to Motor Werks of Barrington, Inc., all kinds of Illinois companies, museums, schools, religious-based organizations and nonprofits took out the loans.

There was little incentive not to apply, since the loans don’t have to be repaid if used to meet payrolls, retain workers and cover some overhead. The loan amounts were based on the number of employees. Employers had to certify on the PPP application that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

From employers unheard of to organizations in the news because of political connections, to enterprises serving the wealthy, to faith-based institutions, the PPP loans were intended to provide financial lifelines resulting in everyday workers getting paid. Congress created the PPP loans with bipartisan support as the devastating enormity of the economic crisis was becoming clear with soaring unemployment numbers.

The PPP program was envisioned as a stopgap temporary emergency measure. Now, with the economy still struggling, the path ahead is not clear.

The employers getting the free money did not have to promise to keep workers or maintain current wages once the PPP money ran out, a big criticism of the program. Another criticism was at the beginning, there was not enough outreach about PPP loans to employers and lending institutions in underserved communities.

The PPP loans are still available and applications are being accepted through Aug. 8.

Where the money went

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission documents that publicly traded companies getting the loans had to file and Treasury Department data released on Monday reveals:

Employers in relatively affluent areas in Chicago and surrounding suburbs made the most use of the PPP loans. There is no data available on where the workers kept on the job live.

For loans above $150,000 to $10 million, employers in the north and western suburbs got the most money. Outside of Chicago, Naperville was at the top followed by Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Rockford, Peoria, Elgin, Northbrook and Skokie.

In Chicago, ZIP code 60606, around the Loop, had a potential total of $543 million in jumbo loans — the most of any ZIP code in Illinois. That includes 16 loans of between $5 million and $10 million. The Treasury Department only gave general ranges for these loans, not specific amounts.

For loans under $150,000, the top ZIP codes in Illinois are:

  • 60062, taking in much of Northbrook, with $57.5 million in PPP cash.
  • 60654, River North, north and west of the Merchandise Mart, $48.9 million.
  • 60007, around Palatine, with $47.2 million.
  • 60010, around Barrington, with $43.7 million.
  • 60614, around Lincoln Park, with $42.5 million.
  • 60602, around the Loop, with $40.7 million.
  • 60606, around the Loop, with $39.3 million.

Banks

The top bank making PPP loans in Illinois was the giant JP Morgan Chase, with at least $1.6 billion dollars in both small and large loans to 21,732 employers.

With the big banks focusing on its best customers, employers, especially small ones, turned to other players. Kabbage, an online lender, scooped up Illinois business, with $95.3 million in 6,162 loans below $150,000 and 50 loans over $150,000 totaling $15.6 million.

Restaurants

The Gage located at 24 S. Michigan Ave. is one of many businesses that received a PPP loan from the Federal government amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, July 7, 2src2src. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Gage, located at 24 S. Michigan Ave., is one of many businesses that received a PPP loan from the federal government amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

$2 million to $5 million — Rosebud Restaurants, covering 500 jobs.

$1 million to $2 million — The Gage, 88 jobs; Eli’s Cheesecake, 204 workers; Greek Islands Restaurant, 102 jobs.

Publicly traded companies

A controversy erupted when SEC filings disclosed publicly traded companies were getting PPP loans. Chicago-based Potbelly returned a $10 million PPP loan as a result of the uproar.

Atlas Financial Holdings is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. The company, with its executives based in Schaumburg, got a $4,600,500 loan from Fifth Third Bank to cover 286 employees in various locations.

Faith-based institutions

Faith-based organizations were eligible for PPP loans, and the Sun-Times analysis found about 475 religious-based groups in Illinois received at least $140 million. Some of the groups getting the loans provide social services or operate community centers; the list also includes houses of worship of a variety of religions. Another 170 operators of religious schools were awarded at least $70 million more.

Getting between $5 million and $10 million in PPP loans — Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in Des Plaines to cover 500 jobs and Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington for 353 jobs.

Between $2 million and $5 million — Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, for 313 workers; Jewish Child and Family Services, for 250 jobs; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet, for 258 employees.

St. Clement Parish located at 642 W. Deming Pl. is one of many businesses that received a PPP loan from the Federal government amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, July 7, 2src2src. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

St. Clement Parish, at 642 W. Deming Place, is one of many recipients of a PPP loan.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In the $1 million to $2 million category — St. Clement Parish, 642 W. Deming, for 92 jobs. That’s the most PPP funds any individual parish received. Most Catholic parishes took loans in the $150,000 to $350,000 range. Plus, Wheaton Bible Church with 114 jobs; Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 N. Broadway, 225 jobs; Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester, 125 jobs.

In the $350,000 to $1 million range — Christ the King Parish, 9235 S. Hamilton, 67 jobs.

In the $150,000 to $350,000 range — St. Sabina Parish, 1210 W. 78th, with 26 jobs; the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, with 94 jobs.

Hotels

$2 million to $5 million — Oxford Hotels and Resorts, which operates London House, The Godfrey and Essex Hotel, 455 jobs.

Law firms

$5 million to $10 million — Schiff Hardin, 321 jobs.

$1 million to $2 million — Geraci Law, 109 workers; Daley and Georges, 26 jobs.

Museums, cultural and other institutions

$5 million to $10 million — Field Museum of Natural History, 495 jobs.

Museum of Contemporary Art located at 22src E. Chicago Ave. is one of many businesses that received a PPP loan from the Federal government amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, July 7, 2src2src. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Museum of Contemporary Art, at 220 E. Chicago Ave., received a PPP loan.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

$2 million to $5 million — Navy Pier, 462 jobs; Museum of Science and Industry, 453 workers; Shedd Aquarium Society, 435 jobs; Joffrey Ballet, 167 jobs; Morton Arboretum, 331 jobs; Museum of Contemporary Art, 249 jobs.

Hospitals and health centers

$5 million to $10 million — Jackson Park Hospital Foundation, 481 jobs; Roseland Community Hospital, 429 jobs; Howard Brown Health Center, 4025 N. Sheridan Rd., 498 jobs.

$2 million to $5 million — Loretto Hospital, 400 jobs.

Media, public affairs, and public relations

Sun-Times Media Productions, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, $2.7 million covering 163 jobs. Between $2 million and $5 million — WBEZ, 163 jobs; WTTW, 216 employees; Paddock Publications, 250 jobs; Chicago Review Press, 196 workers.

Kivvit, $2.1 million covering 109 workers; Jasculca Terman, $411,285 for 24 employees.

Automotive

$5 million to $10 million — Patrick Schaumburg Automobiles, 130 jobs; Motor Werks of Barrington, 346 workers.

Other nonprofits

$5 million to $10 million — Lawndale Christian Health Center, 466 jobs; Muscular Dystrophy Association, Chicago, 235 employees.

$2 million to $5 million — Planned Parenthood of Illinois, 341 jobs; Legal Aid Chicago, 159 jobs.

$1 million to $2 million — Lambs Farm, 351 jobs.

Miscellaneous

$5 million to $10 million — Mario Tricoci Hair Salon and Spa, Palatine, 500 jobs.

$2 million to $5 million — World’s Finest Chocolate Inc, 284 jobs.

Following up …

In April, the Sun-Times reported on Devon Bank’s problems in forwarding its customers’ PPP applications to the Small Business Administration for approval. Because the family-owned bank, headquartered at 6445 N. Western Ave., with branches in Glenview and Wheeling, did relatively few SBA loans, it needed to work through a third-party loan packager — which gave priority to their best customers.

For the second round of PPP loans, David Loundy, the chairman and CEO, told the Sun-Times on Monday the bank was able to convince the SBA to let Devon Bank send applications directly to the SBA. “We were aggressive about following up” with the SBA, Loundy said. It also helped that PPP loan money was set aside for smaller lenders in the second round, since the big banks gobbled up most of the money in the first round.

According to federal records and Loundy, Devon Bank made 170 loans for about $19 million: 148 loans totaling $6 million were for less than $150,000, with 22 jumbo loans accounting for the rest.

“The loans helped a lot of people. Period, full stop,” Loundy said. The Devon Bank customer base includes many businesses in the communities where the banks are located. And to that point …

Later in April, the Sun-Times reported on the travails of the Glenwood Dance Studio, 7017 N. Glenwood in East Rogers Park, not that far from the Devon Bank.

The studio was told by Chase, its bank, that there were 100,000 applicants ahead of them for PPP loans when its application was first made. Because the loan request was small, Chase did not give the dance center any priority and there was no personal banker to help.

Sandra Verthein, the dance center board president, told the Sun-Times on Monday that after the story ran, Devon Bank President Thomas Olivieri phoned her, assigned a bank officer to work with the center on the application — and a $5,750 PPP loan was deposited into the dance studio’s account a few days later.

In May, the Sun-Times reported the Admiral Theatre, a strip club at 3940 W. Lawrence Ave., sued the SBA and Treasury Department because of a rule banning loans to erotic entertainment companies.

The loan request was for $406,565. According to Treasury records, Admiral got a loan between $350,000 and $1 million from Belmont Bank on June 3, to cover 43 employees.

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