Venue relief grant lawsuits help some applicants get millions

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The show was called Enchant Christmas, and it slid down the chimneys of several cities, including Seattle, St. Petersburg and Dallas, where hundreds of thousands of visitors paid up to $32.99 to enter the “more The world’s largest maze of Christmas lights, complete with an ice rink and Christmas market.

But in 2020, with COVID-19 playing Grinch, Santa’s suits and light displays have remained in storage. Enchant Christmas revenue plummeted. When the Vancouver, B.C.-based company applied to receive a federal grant for gated site operators last April, it was one of more than 17,000 organizations that would end up vying for part of the program. of $16.2 billion, which was intended to help save performance businesses and live arts and entertainment organizations across the United States

But the US Small Business Administration, which oversees the grant program, rejected Enchant Christmas’ application. The company therefore appealed. When that appeal was also denied, he sued the SBA in federal court. Within weeks, the company received $10 million, the maximum amount available under the program, and the lawsuit was dropped.

Enchant Christmas — which applied for the Site Operators Grant as a Seattle-based company but is also registered in Delaware and other US states — isn’t alone.

Nearly 50 rejected venue grant applicants have sued the SBA, including escape rooms, a dance convention, a circus arts company, a ministry, a Manhattan jazz club, an event organizer. “pet events” and the Michigan State Fair. About 15 cases have been resolved, with $52.7 million in site grants awarded to those companies.

Many plaintiffs, including Enchant Christmas, took a similar approach (and hired the same law firm in Washington, DC). They claim that the SBA’s denial of their claims without explanation was potentially illegal and unsupported by substantial evidence, especially since some competitors won subsidies.

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