Administration Coronavirus News

Tilman Fertitta suggests PPP changes, talks NBA at White House roundtable

UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta spoke to President Donald Trump about acquiring PPP loans for larger companies. | File photo

UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta proposed adjustments to the Payroll Protection Plan at a roundtable with President Donald Trump and fellow restaurant executives on Monday at the White House.

Fertitta, the CEO of Landry’s Inc., discussed how PPP loans were intended to assist small businesses and how larger chains are still experiencing economic loss.

In March, Fertitta furloughed 40,000 of his casino, hotel and restaurant employees as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In his roundtable discussion, Fertitta brought up the suggestion that a separate category should be made for the government to financially help larger companies as they continue to support their employees.

“Add a category for the larger private restaurant(s), who could go out and take this money and put it in different buckets, so it wouldn’t be me taking this money away from the little beauty salon,” he said.

While Fertitta wants to bring his thousands of furloughed employees back to work, he said he’s financially not able to do so. Fertitta did not spend any PPP money and returned the loans that were intended for small businesses. 

“I would have been that billionaire that took the money from the little business,” Fertitta said.

When asked about the future of the suspended NBA season, Fertitta, who owns the league’s Houston Rockets, said he thinks that when teams will be able to continue playing will be dependent on the states and their progress in decreasing new coronavirus cases.

“I think what they’re doing is waiting to see what happens in certain states, and if we’re going to be able to play, making sure the virus continues to go in the right direction in the next few weeks,” Fertitta said.

If cases and the coronavirus go in the right direction, Fertitta said he believes the NBA will try to resume the basketball season. 

“(NBA players) need to play to get paid,” Fertitta said.

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