Transmitted: April 19, 2022
To: Chief FOIA Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration
RE: FOIA Request for Documents Related to Paycheck Protection Program Loan
Made to FreightCar America, Inc.
Empower Oversight filed a FOIA request with the Chief of the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Office (FOIA), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The FOIA request seeks information regarding the approval of a $10 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to FreightCar America, Inc. (FCA) before FCA shuttered its Shoals, Alabama plant, which was its last manufacturing facility in the United States.
On April 27, 2020, BMO Harris National Bank Association paid out a $10 million loan to FCA, which was used to cover several months of payroll. Pursuant to the terms of SBA’s PPP program, the loan was forgiven—without tax consequences—in its entirety.
In support of its loan application and eligibility, FCA declared that the loan proceeds would enable the company to keep open the Shoals manufacturing facility. However, what remained unclear was for how long. Shortly after the loan’s approval, FCA announced it was shutting the plant down and moving all of its manufacturing operations to Mexico. This cost 550 American jobs and has raised questions regarding whether FCA planned to close the Shoals plant prior to its loan application, effectively using the forgiven loan proceeds to sweeten the financial benefits of moving its manufacturing operations to Mexico.
Empower Oversight is seeking FCA’s PPP loan documents and all records, reports, and communications associated with FCA’s PPP loan. This includes records related to any investigation by the SBA’s Office of Inspector General.
If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.