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Most federal small-business relief money went to larger Delaware companies. Here's who got what

Construction firms received 16% of the money but made up only 5% of unemployment claims.

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Of the $1.5 billion U.S. Treasury officials say they pumped into Delaware's economy through small-business loans as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the state, nearly three-quarters of that money went toward just 16% of business recipients. 

More than 2,000 businesses got loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program, totaling 73% of all money loaned, according to a Delaware Online/The News Journal analysis of the data.

How much small-business relief money really flowed to Delaware?
Karl Baker and Jeanne Kuang break down their investigation, which found many beneficiaries of small business relief money don’t appear to have operations in the state.
Jenna Miller, Karl Baker and Jeanne Kuang, Delaware News Journal

That money accounted for 65% of the jobs purported to have been saved by the program in Delaware. The program – in which banks made loans that would be reimbursed by the Small Business Administration – was intended to keep workers in their jobs as business revenues dropped because of the pandemic.

The tilt of the loans toward larger businesses echoes nationwide patterns in how money from the massive federal relief program was distributed – first in a rapid wave in early April, then in a second round that ended August. The Small Business Administration has stated that nationwide 87% of loans were given out in amounts less than $150,000.

The analysis was made possible by the agency's release of more detail about loan recipients only in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that several news organizations filed for the data.

The agency first released in July the names of loan recipients that got at least $150,000, but not the exact amount of money received. It did not initially release the names of thousands of recipients that got smaller loans. 

Delaware Online/The News Journal in July reported that many of the beneficiaries, which the government says provide jobs for Delawareans, don't appear to operate in the state.

THE FULL STORY: How much small-business relief money really flowed to Delaware?

Delaware Online/The News Journal also found several recipients that don't appear to have any business operations or presence anywhere. Some of those companies are no longer listed in the new database, which does not include loans that were approved but canceled, said Christopher Hatch, a spokesman for the Small Business Administration's Mid-Atlantic region.

"Generally speaking, the borrower most likely decided not to take the loan for reasons we would not know," Hatch wrote in an email.

The new data shows exact amounts and names for all loan recipients, including a total of about 13,000 in Delaware.