Lititz-based Tait Towers has dropped its lawsuit against the U.S. Small Business Administration over the denial of $10 million in grants for gated site operators.
Tait had argued in the lawsuit that he had been unfairly overlooked in the grant program, which was set up to help entertainment venues or promoters particularly affected by COVID-19-related closures and limitations.
The designer and producer of live experiences, who filed the complaint in May, did not respond to a request for comment. He was represented by Caroline Wolverton of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, based in Washington, DC.
Tait claimed SBA erred in denying him a grant, pointing out that SBA awarded a $10 million grant to one of Tait’s competitors, Clair Global Corp., a manufacturer, installer and operator of audio systems concert hall based in Lititz.
Clair Global and Tait are partners in Rock Lititz, which recently purchased the former Specialty Baker property for $1.3 million.
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 at Juilliard and the Hale Center Theater at Sand. City, Utah, among others.
Tait applied for the $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.
Tait said the SBA did not explain why it declined the grant and the appeal. Even a follow-up email 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 made a major investment in the business, Tait has 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 available under the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, $14.57 billion has been awarded as of July 5, the SBA reported. Pennsylvania-based sites and providers have received $434 million in 769 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.
Four months after suing the SBA over the agency’s denial of its pandemic relief grant application, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire operator in Rapho Township has been awarded a $3.7 million grant in May. The original lawsuit seeking $5.8 million remains open.