Company with Trump ties secures $5.5 million PPP loan — while many small businesses struggle for assistance: report

Company with Trump ties secures $5.5 million PPP loan — while many small businesses struggle for assistance: report
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk from the Oval Office to a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and have reported they’re having a hard time receiving small business loans. But according to National Public Radio (NPR), one company that had no problem getting such a loan is one with ties to President Donald Trump.

The company, NPR’s Robert Benincasa reports, is Continental Materials — which manufactures heating and cooling equipment as well as construction products. Continental, according to Benincasa, qualified for a $5.5 million loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program even though it “had more than $100 million in sales last year.”

Paul Ainsworth, Continental’s chief financial officer, told NPR that the money from the loan is being used to pay its 445 employees.

According to Ainsworth, “We had planned to furlough people, and we delayed those plans. To the extent that we had to let people go, we’re hiring them back.”

Here’s where the Trump connection comes in. Benincasa notes that Continental —according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — is mostly owned by the family of Ronald Gidwitz, who the president appointed as U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 2018. In the 2016 presidential election, Gidwitz (whose family is primarily based in Chicago) served as Trump’s campaign finance chairman for Illinois.

In July 2018, after the U.S. Senate had confirmed him for his ambassador position, Gidwitz resigned from Continental’s board.

Benincasa reports, “While the company may qualify as a small business under the PPP program, there are many much smaller businesses that have been unsuccessful in obtaining or even applying for the loans from their banks.”

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