Tait Towers sues US Small Business Administration over denial of $10 million grant | Local company

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Lititz-based Tait Towers is suing the U.S. Federal Small Business Administration for $10 million after its appeal for a gated-site operator grant was denied.

Live-experience designer and producer Tait claims in the lawsuit filed this week that the SBA erred in denying him a grant, and Tait points out that the SBA awarded a $10 million grant to one of Tait’s competitors, Clair Global Corp., a Lititz-based concert audio company. system manufacturer, installer and operator.

Clair Global and Tait are on-campus partners of Rock Lititz.

Tait is among dozens of venues that have sued the SBA saying they have been unfairly overlooked in the grant program, which was set up to help entertainment venues or promoters particularly affected by the closures and restrictions. related to COVID-19. Tait’s attorney, Caroline Wolverton, of Washington, DC-based firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, represented many of them.

Tait, a private company, said it needed the grant because it suffered a 74% loss of revenue in the last three quarters of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 and the majority of employees were dismissed. The company said it needed the award to maintain operations and bring back key employees.

Tait said in his lawsuit that more than 70% of his income comes from production fees from creating, organizing and producing live shows, including productions from the Metropolitan Opera, the Peter J. Sharp Theater in Julliard and the Hale Center Theater in Sand. City, Utah, among others.

Tait applied for a $10 million grant, the highest amount allowed, in April 2021. He learned in August that it had been turned down. In September, Tait filed an administrative appeal against the denial with the SBA and changed its eligibility category to the theater producer’s live performing arts organization operator.

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Tait said the SBA did not explain why it declined the grant and the appeal. Even a follow-up email last month shed no light on the denial, Tait claimed.

The SBA said in the email that Tait has “no primary business activity. . . create, produce, perform and/or present live events by performers with at least 70% of revenue generated from ticket sales/coverage, merchandise/food/beverage sales (including alcohol), production fees/reimbursements, and/or non-profit educational initiatives. »

Since 2019 when a private equity firm has made a major investment in the business, Tait completed four business acquisitions. In March, it acquired Thinkwell Group, a global company based in Los Angeles specializing in the planning, design and production of facilities. In October, it bought Orlando-based ITEC Entertainment, a company that designs theme parks, resorts, cultural attractions, themed restaurants and stores, resorts, casinos and real estate developments. , as well as rides and shows.

Tait has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, including nearly 500 employees based at its Lititz headquarters.

Of the $16 billion gated site operator grant program, $14.54 billion was awarded on Monday, the SBA reported. Pennsylvania-based sites and providers have received $434 million in 767 initial and additional grants so far.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program was part of a $284 billion relief bill signed by then-President Donald Trump in December 2020. The funds were first distributed in early July 2021 , but additional grants have since been issued, according to an SBA report released Monday.

More than 29 Lancaster County venues have received grants, including some of the biggest live entertainment venues such as Sight & Sound Theaters, which got $10 million; American Music Theatre, awarded $7 million; and Penn Cinema, which raised $5.7 million.

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