New data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) reveals the most complete accounting of more than $700 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses across the country impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data was released Tuesday night after 11 news organizations, including NBC News, sued for the records.
Click here for a complete national analysis of the data by NBC News.
In all, nearly five million companies received forgivable loans through the program.
An NBC Bay Area analysis found at least 24 Bay Area companies received $10 million – the maximum amount distributed through the program.
In San Francisco alone, 575 businesses received loans of $1 million or more.
Businesses across the Bay Area’s three largest cities – San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland – received more than $2 billion in combined loans through the program, according to the data.
For the most part, the recipients fell into a few specific categories: Construction companies, medical practices and restaurants.
Prominent Bay Area universities and art institutions, such as the San Francisco Opera Association, the San Francisco Symphony, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also received large loans.
“The arts is an area that has suffered tremendously as a result of the crisis,” said Marc Goldwein, Senior Vice President of Policy at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Nobody is going to see indoor opera right now. It’s not safe to do so. No one’s going to the theater now. We can argue over whether the program is designed right, whether we should have been having such a universal reach, but this was the goal of the program as it was stated. It wasn’t to try to pick the industries that need the money more.”
Goldwein said businesses had to meet two criteria to be eligible for an SBA loan.
“One, are you small? 500 employees or less in a single location,” Goldwein said. “And two, did you have the potential to suffer as a result of the Coronavirus. We weren’t trying to pick winners and losers based on which industries are best for the economy or which are most important for the recovery.”
Whether the first round of economic stimulus will be enough to keep many of these small businesses going through the pandemic is the current focus of a debate in Washington D.C. over whether to pass another massive spending bill.