FILE - Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration building in Washington D.C.

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More than $24 billion in loans given out by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have defaulted, an OpenTheBooks.com analysis found.

Since 2000, 160,000 defaulted SBA loans were charged to taxpayers, totaling $17.5 billion, the OpenTheBooks.com report disclosed. About 1.4 million workers were displaced after losing their jobs within these failed companies, the government spending watchdog reported.

“The mission of the SBA is to provide lending to entrepreneurs with great ideas who can’t find financing in the private marketplace,” says Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of OpenTheBooks.com, the world’s largest private database of government spending.

“The public image is one financing the American Dream. But the reality is that the SBA is costly for taxpayers, and – even worse – it creates a painful human cost for the workers it dislocates.”

The organization’s report, "OpenTheBooks Snapshot Oversight Report – Truth in Lending: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s $24.2 Billion Bad Loan Portfolio," documented $160 million in lending to private country clubs; $350 million in failed lending to four hotel chains; $562 million lent to the convenience store/gas station industry; and $2.2 billion to failed restaurants, breweries, and wineries, including Quiznos ($58.1 million) and Cold Stone Creamery ($49.1 million).

The SBA has loaned more than $160 million to country clubs and golf courses since 2007, the report found. Many now-defunct clubs and courses received $61.4 million in SBA lending since 2000 and $44.6 million was charged to taxpayers, it adds.

The report identified four national hotel chains that defaulted on more than $350 million of SBA loans: Choice Hotels ($95.3 million), Holiday Inn ($88.4 million), Comfort Inn ($88.7 million), and Days Inn ($81.9 million).

The convenience store/gas stations that defaulted include those owned by Phillips, Conoco, Shell, Marathon, Citgo, Texaco, Chevron, Hess, and BP.

“Since when did a small business loan become a give-away to big oil?” Andrezejewski asks. “Wasting scarce dollars on unproductive enterprises diverts dollars away from productive enterprises. It’s a rigged game in which the house – politicians – always wins.”

Accompanied with the report is an interactive map that charts the bad loans by ZIP code across America.

In 2014, OpenTheBooks.com documented SBA’s lending to Lamborghini auto dealerships, Rolex jewelers, world-class golf courses, private country clubs and roughly $142 million lent to businesses in the Beverly Hills zip code 90210.

This included $191.7 million in defaulted loans to auto dealers and auto services, including Lamborghini ($1.4 million), DC Limousine and Luxury Cars ($1.2 million), and BMW Motorcycles of Little Rock, AR ($1.3 million).

Of the $18 billion in defaulted SBA lending, $2.2 billion of bad debts came from franchises, including recognizably large companies. The top ten offenders, according to Open the Books, are Choice Hotels International, Inc., Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Quiznos, Ramada Inn, Cold Stone Creamery, Inc., Super 8 Motel, Best Western Inn, and Quality Inn.

Loan defaults are a widespread issue, affecting every state, the report notes, with more populated states having higher default amounts.

The top 10 defaulting states add up to $2,7 billion, or 15 percent of all defaults. “With such an even distribution of charge-offs, it is evident that the SBA has a hand in every corner of the nation,” the report states.

The top five defaulting states are California ($2.8 billion), Florida ($1.6 billion), Texas ($1.5 billion), Georgia ($815.2 million) and Illinois ($734.7 million).

This article originally ran on thecentersquare.com.

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