Tag Archives: Business

Biden and Trump Received Millions from Big Firms That Received PPP Loans Meant for Small Businesses

July 24, 2020

Individuals working for big law firms and corporations that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans meant for small businesses pumped nearly $2 million into former Vice-President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

President Donald Trump also benefitted from such contributions, counting more than $1.5 million, according to a July 23 analysis of Small Business Administration (SBA) and federal campaign finance data by opensecrets.org.

“Vital Pharmaceuticals, the company behind Bang Energy drink, got a PPP loan worth at least $5 million in early April as the program doled out its first batch of loans. Last year the company gave $250,000 in corporate money to Trump’s preferred super PAC, America First Action,” opensecrets.org said.

The biggest single chunk of Biden’s haul came from individuals associated with a Florida trial lawyer firm.

“Biden is boosted by Morgan & Morgan, a Florida personal injury law firm whose employees gave $437,000 to his campaign. The firm’s founder hosted an extravagant fundraiser for the former vice president during the early days of his White House bid,” opensecrets.org said.

“Morgan & Morgan, which says it employs more than 500 experienced lawyers, pulled in several PPP loans meant for struggling small businesses. Its Tampa location received a loan worth at least $5 million while its Fort Myers and Jacksonville locations each received loans worth at least $2 million,” the opensecrets.org analysis reported.

Two other trial lawyer firms that got PPP loans and provided large contributions to Democrats were singled out by the opensecrets.org analysis.

“Top lawyers at another Texas-based firm, Baron & Budd, held a fundraiser for Biden last year, and the company’s employees gave $250,000 to Democrats. It received a loan worth at least $2 million,” according to the analysis.

“Another PPP loan of at least $350,000 went to New York personal injury law firm Kramer Dillof Livingston & Moore. Late last year, the firm gave $100,000 from its corporate reserves to Unite the Country, the only super PAC supporting Biden’s presidential bid at the time,” the analysis said.

The big contributions by such firms highlight the fact that congressional Democrats are battling Republicans who seek increased personal liability protections for medical professionals and workers caring for victims of the CCP Virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.

Senate Republicans insist such protection must be included in the new economic recovery bill being negotiated this week on Capitol Hill, but Democrats warn that such a provision would be a deal-killer.

Despite Trump receiving less than Biden from the firms getting PPP money, Republican campaign committees got multiple millions of dollars from individuals linked to those businesses.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) tallied slightly more than $5 million, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) received more than $2.5 million. A total of $1.75 million went to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Other notable contributions spotlighted by the opensecrets.org analysis included money going to groups backing candidates and causes of both major political parties.

“The Center for Popular Democracy contributed $113,000 in nonprofit funds to New Florida Majority, a PAC that supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the Democratic primary,” the analysis said.

“New Orleans transportation company Harvey Gulf International Marine—backed by a loan of more than $5 million—gave $100,000 in corporate funds to Make Louisiana Great Again, a super PAC supporting area Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.),” it said.

The $670 billion PPP program was a Trump initiative for helping Main Street businesses retain as many employees on their payrolls as possible during the national lockdown that began in mid-March and continues today at varying degrees of intensity around the country.

“While many small businesses waited on loans during the program’s rollout, larger companies with access to big banks got loans first,” opensecrets.org said.

“Powerful lobbying firms, hedge funds and real estate companies received aid while tens of thousands of small businesses closed for good.”

SOURCE: https://www.theepochtimes.com/biden-got-nearly-2-million-from-big-firms-that-received-ppp-loans-meant-for-small-businesses_3437144.html

Yelp Claims More than Half of Restaurants Temporarily Closed are now Permanently Shuttered

July 22nd, 2020

It’s tough out there for restaurants and other small businesses. 

Yelp’s Economic Average report out Wednesday shows exactly how tough: 60 percent of the 26,160 temporarily closed restaurants on the business review site as of July are now permanently shut. Temporary closures are dropping, and permanent shutdowns are increasing. 

Yelp’s previous report in April found that more than 175,000 total businesses were closed in some capacity. Just under 25 percent of those closed businesses have reopened three months later. For restaurants in particular, this is becoming the way it goes. Yelp noted a 23-percent increase in permanent restaurant closures from only a month ago. Bars and clubs are also closing forever at high rates: 44 percent (as of July) of 5,454 temporarily shuttered bars and other nightlife establishments are shut for good. 

Yelp broke down which cities and states are experiencing the most closures, both temporary and permanent. Places like Honolulu, San Francisco, and Las Vegas were struggling to keep businesses open as the cities with the highest rate of closures.

Closures are becoming permanent.
Closures are becoming permanent.
Hawaii, California, and Nevada restaurants were hit hardest.
Hawaii, California, and Nevada restaurants were hit hardest.

Your local favorite may be in danger if these trends continue, and it may have already been lost.

It wasn’t all bad news for businesses trying to make it during the pandemic, though. Black-owned business searches soared compared to this time period last year. Yelp searches from May 25 to July 10 showed more than 2,500,000 searches for Black-owned businesses, a 7,043 percent increase compared to overall searches in 2019. Black-owned restaurants are the most popular search, up 2,508 percent from last year.

Trump Administration to Release Names of Businesses That Received Large PPP Loans

June 20, 2020

The Trump administration, in a sharp reversal, is releasing the names of some businesses that received money from a federal government program created to alleviate burdens during virus-fueled lockdowns.

The name of any business that received $150,000 or more from the Paycheck Protection Program will be released, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Treasury said in a joint statement.

Meetings with lawmakers from both parties led to the decision.

“I am pleased that we have been able to reach a bipartisan agreement on disclosure which will strike the appropriate balance of providing public transparency, while protecting the payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“We value transparency and our fiduciary responsibility to ensure American taxpayer funds are used appropriately,” added Jovita Carranza, the SBA’s administrator.

Business names, addresses, zip codes, business type, demographic data, nonprofit information, jobs supported, loan amount, and North American Industry Classification System codes will be released.

Epoch Times Photo
A pedestrian wears his mask while walking past a closed Nickel Diner in Los Angeles, Calif., on May 7, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The Paycheck Protection Program was created in April to help companies pay employees. Many businesses were forced to shut down by governors, who imposed harsh measures to try to stop the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Loans totaling $150,000 or more accounted for nearly 75 percent of the loan dollars approved through the program.

For loans below $150,000, totals will be released, aggregated by zip code, by industry, by business type, and by various demographic categories.

Senate Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who was pushing for transparency regarding loans, said the agreement will help Americans know how effective the program was in protecting the nation’s small businesses and the workers they employ.

“That is the standard by which we must measure the success of the PPP: how many paychecks were protected,” he said in a statement.

“I also understand the very real concern that many small business owners have with regard to disclosing proprietary information. Today’s announcement strikes a balance between those concerns and the need for transparency.”

Epoch Times Photo
Jovita Carranza, administrator of the Small Business Administration, testifies to the Senate in Washington on June 10, 2020. (Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images)

Mnuchin told Rubio’s committee last week the Trump administration wouldn’t release a list of the businesses that received loans, arguing the names and loan amounts were proprietary information and, in many cases, confidential.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Treasury Department “finally gave in to public pressure from Democrats because their position of hiding which businesses have received PPP loans was untenable.”

“This reversal is a good start and will help us determine if taxpayer money went where Congress intended—to the truly small and unbanked small business,” he said in a statement.

According to figures released by the government, some 4.6 million loans have been approved as of June 19.

The approved dollars recently topped $514 billion, with an average loan size of $110,543.

Nearly 3 million loans were for $50,000 or less while around 4,800 were for over $5 million.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

SOURCE: https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-administraiton-to-release-names-of-businesses-that-received-large-ppp-loans_3395541.html

This Infographic Shows How Only 10 Companies Own All The World’s Food Brands

We all want to add diversity to our meals. This means searching the shelves for new products, extending our grocery lists, and trying the newest food products. We do this to boost our health, as well as ensuring we aren’t buying all of our groceries from one or two companies.

However, Oxfam International have put together a comprehensive infographic that illustrates just how little diversity there is in supermarkets. Despite the hundreds and hundreds of different brand names we see, just ten conglomerates produce the vast majority of the food we eat. So much for diversity…

The Big 10: Companies That Own Most Of Your Food

The infographic shows that Mondelez, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Associated British Foods, Mars, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Unilever, own nearly every processed item that is readily available to buy. Whether you indulge in sweet treats, fizzy drinks, potato chips, or even just a good cup of tea, you’re almost certainly buying from these big companies.

Some of the brands that are owned by these multinationals are surprising. For example, PG tips are owned by Unilever and Pepsico is the business behind Quaker Oats. It’s a worrying sign when we don’t know who is making our food.

The reason that they hide their name behind other brand names is so that consumers don’t realize that they have a monopoly on the market. They can hide their corporate greed, which ensures that they can infiltrate more markets and crush competition from independently owned small businesses.

The biggest downside for people like you and me is that manufacturing so much food leads to overly processed and chemical-laden products. The use of preservatives, mixed with the lack of consumer-led accountability, mean that the ‘Big 10’ aren’t making food that is detrimental to our health. It’s a terrifying wake-up call considering their combined market share, but do not despair as there are simple steps you can take to avoid them.

How to avoid the big 10

The release of the infographic by Oxfam International is the first step to avoiding these faceless corporations. Take the time to study the image and make the conscious decision to avoid the brands on the list.

Although the list is comprehensive, there is no guarantee that Oxfam have successfully identified every ‘Big 10’ item in the grocery store. Bare this in mind when you are shopping and read up on the food you are buying. You should always know exactly where your food is coming from and who is responsible for producing it.

Finally, the best solution is the advice that I always give when it comes to ensuring that you are eating ethically and healthily. Where possible avoid branded foods, and even chain grocery stores. Buy your food from local independent stores and farmer’s markets. If we all did so we could stop the growing influence of the ‘Big 10’ which would force them to change their bad practices.

As Oxfam’s report states: ‘The world’s largest food and beverage companies have a lot of power – but you have more. And because they’re not using theirs enough to help poor communities or the planet, you can use yours to change the way they do business.’

Never forget, and never stop believing, that you can make a real difference.



Thriving Hemp Industry is About to Create a Jobs Boom in the US

Originally published on May 29, 2019 at 11:28 pm
Written by 
Emma Fiala

Thanks to a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer a federally illegal controlled substance in the Unites States. The passage of the Farm Bill allows farmers and cultivators to grow the once demonized cannabis plant and even restart long forgotten operations.

As it turns out, legally allowing farmers to grow the plant and sell it to processors is having a massive effect on employment in the United States, across multiple sectors. The hemp industry took in $1.1 billion in revenue in 2018 and is on track to more than double that in 2022, with $2.6 billion in revenue, according to New Frontier Data.

The effects of the hemp boom will be felt far from the agriculture fields and even the hemp processors, with job growth expected in the form of “accountants, lawyers, compliance officers, government regulators, IT specialists, financial and insurance experts, transporters, researchers and lab technicians, marketers, CFOs, CEOs and various retail employees,” according to CNBC.

Job creation is going to happen in every economic bracket,” said the executive director of the DC-based National Hemp Association, Erica McBride Stark.

The hemp industry will create high-skilled management jobs, labor-type jobs and everything in between. It’s going to touch all of society.”

Stark recently returned from the 6th annual NoCo Hemp Expo in Denver, Colorado. More than 225 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees were present—twice the size of last year’s gather.

Indeed, the online job listing search engine, reported an increase in job openings in hemp-related industries this year and HempStaff has seen hemp related jobs double in the last year.

And while hemp is federally legal in the United States, only 41 states allowed the cultivation of hemp as of February and only 24 states had farmers actually growing it last year, which means there is plenty of room for growth and expansion. According to NBC, “Total hemp acreage in the U.S. was at 78,176 acres, up from 25,713 in 2017,” with the average increasingly considerably over the next few years.

It should be noted, too, that despite hemp’s new federal status, the Farm Bill stipulates that individual states can choose to establish their own agriculture and commerce programs, or not. As of February, 41 states allowed cultivation of hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs, although only 24 states had farmers actually growing hemp last year.

While hemp can be used for a wide variety of things including textiles, building materials, and food, the primary focus and most trending use of the plant is for producing CBD oil. CBD oil is made from the flowers, buds, and seeds of the hemp plant.

CBD oil is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It has been shown to aid users in treating anxiety, arthritis, pain, depression, and more and is being used with increasingly frequency to relieve pain associated with cancer and cancer treatment and in an attempt to treat the cancer itself.

In 2018 alone, CBD-containing products generated $390 million in sales in the U.S. and that number is predicted to reach $1.3 billion by 2022.

Presently, an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex is the only CBD product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration even though a wide array of CBD products are available online and over-the-counter at mainstream stores like Walgreens, CVS, and Bed Bath and Beyond. The FDA is still finalizing regulations associated with those products and has a public hearing scheduled for May 31 in Silver Spring, MD.

According to the FDA, the agency is “concerned” about the rapid increase in CBD-containing products “marketed for therapeutic or medical uses.”

The agency has and will continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed to protect the public health against companies illegally selling cannabis and cannabis-derived products that can put consumers at risk and that are being marketed for therapeutic uses for which they are not approved. At the same time, FDA recognizes the potential therapeutic opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds could offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities.”

Despite the FDA’s concern, all signs point to a continued booming of the hemp industry, with CBD products leading the way. “Whereas legal marijuana is expansively regulated — from seed to sale, as they say in the cannabis world — hemp will enjoy less stringent oversight, since its no longer classified as a drug, potentially attracting a much wider variety of established and start-up companies,” reports NBC.

Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, predicts:

Hemp is going to dwarf marijuana for jobs. There are so many companies looking for people right now with industry experience and talent.”

Hemp is here to stay,” said one farmer who transitioned 40 acres of his tobacco farm to hemp, “This is not some fad.”