The public’s support of small business is as American as apple pie. And for good reason. Success of mom and pop businesses on Main Street is an important part of the American Dream. Small businesses strengthen our communities and grow our economy.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal agency charged with helping "Americans start, build and grow businesses." The administrator of the SBA is a cabinet-level position with discretion over billions of dollars and bullypulpit power in its own right.
Taxpayers deserve to know how the agency is performing.
Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report: Small Business Administration – Quantifying Lending Practices reviewed the last five years (FY2014-FY2018). More than $168.9 billion in loans and insurance guarantees were obligated and awarded.
Our report looks at where the money went.
Unfortunately, struggling mom and pop shops weren’t always the top recipients.
Small businesses in Beverly Hills, California received $117 million. Specific recipients included doctors with practices on Wilshire Boulevard, a couture high fashion design school, and retailers selling alligator leather belts for $750 and cowboy boots for $3,400. A 30-year importer of French wine received $1.75 million and $2.155 million supported an eyeglass designer whose frames are worn by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
Since FY2007, our auditors quantified more than $280 million in lending to private country clubs, beach clubs, swim clubs, tennis clubs and yacht clubs across America – $120 million flowed to these exclusive clubs during the five-years covered by this report.
Additionally, significant SBA lending went to Wall Street rather than Main Street. For instance, $12.2 billion in lending flowed to highly capitalized venture capital, mezzanine finance firms, private investor funds and investment pools, none of which are traditional small businesses.
Our auditors found extensive SBA lending to business that cater to wealthy and exclusive lifestyles, i.e. luxury resorts, plastic surgery clinics, high-end spas, exclusive diamond brokers, and more. The SBA lending portfolio includes million-dollar loans to exclusive Rolex jewelers, Napa/Sonoma Valley wineries, aesthetic enhancement clinics, luxury pet resorts, and much more.