By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Hospitals, construction companies, media outlets, car dealerships, private schools, nonprofits, restaurants and enterprises owned by relatives of elected officials were among 23,500 recipients of forgivable loans in New Hampshire through the federal Payroll Protection Program.
The Small Business Administration released the national data Monday after several news agencies sued under the federal Freedom of Information Act. It amounted to about $2.5 billion for New Hampshire businesses and nonprofits through the $660 billion program.
The SBA released the amounts in ranges, including those who received loans of $150,000 up to $10 million. The loans will be forgiven if the funds are used for payroll, rent and other necessities and if repaid, it would be at a very low interest rate.
The program is part of the federal CARES Act intended to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s family-owned Waterville Valley Holdings received between $350,000 and $1 million, according to the SBA data. Sununu served as CEO of the Waterville Valley Resort before he was elected but has said he stepped aside from the business since becoming governor. His spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, whose family members own companies that received almost $3 million in PPP loans, released a statement saying she has nothing to do with their businesses and didn’t help apply for the loans.
Shaheen has been calling for more transparency relative to the loan program for months and released loans for less than the $150,000 threshold for public disclosure for some family members. Her husband William Shaheen’s law firm, Shaheen and Gordon of Dover, received $1.2 million.
“Like many people in New Hampshire, members of my family manage or work for small businesses and applied for PPP loans to keep their businesses going and their employees on payroll. I was not involved in any way in applying for those loans nor do I have anything to do with their businesses, and Congress had no role in processing PPP applications,” Shaheen said in a statement.
“I encourage the Trump administration to also make public the details of how Secretary Mnuchin is spending the additional $500 billion over which he has discretion,” Shaheen said.
Corky Messner, one of the Republicans vying for the chance to run against Shaheen, received between $2 and $5 million for his law firm in Colorado.
His spokesman, Mike Biundo said, “While Corky is not involved in the day-to-day operations of Messner Reeves, he was indeed aware of the decision to apply for PPP funds. Hundreds of Messner Reeves employees, hard-working men and women from all over our country, rely on their incomes to provide for themselves and their families. This pandemic has hit us all hard and we can only hope we all will come out of this stronger.”
A company run by Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster’s son, Travis Kuster, AEF Ice Systems, received a $63,000 PPP loan, her spokesman said.
Many law firms in New Hampshire received the forgivable loans, including Sheehan, Phinney Bass and Green and McLane Middleton that each received between $2 million and $5 million and Devine Millimet and Orr and Reno that each received between $1 million and $2 million.
News outlets in New Hampshire on the list include: the Union Leader Corp., which received between $1 million and $2 million; Newspapers of New England, which owns the Concord Monitor and Valley News and several other newspapers, received between $2 million and $5 million; the Keene Publishing Corp., publisher of the Keene Sentinel, between $350,000 and $1 million; Lakes Region News Club, publisher of the Laconia Daily Sun, between $150,000 and $350,000; Yankee Publishing, owner of the New Hampshire Business Review, between $1 million and $2 million, and WBIN Media Co. Inc. of Portsmouth between $1 million and $2 million.
New Hampshire Public Radio received between $1 million and $2 million and NH PBS between $350,000 and $1 million in forgivable loans. Both are nonprofit organizations.
Fourteen businesses and nonprofits in New Hampshire received the biggest forgivable loans ranging from $5 million to $10 million: Air General Inc. in Portsmouth, Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association, Eastern Propane Gas Inc. in Rochester, Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, Microdesk Inc. of Nashua, Napoli PSC Series LLC in Amherst, New England Finish Systems LLC of Salem, Planesense Inc. of Portsmouth, Riverbend Community Mental Health of Concord, Select Demo Services LLC of Salem, Speare Memorial Hospital of Plymouth, and The Granite Group Wholesalers of Concord.
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