Morse firm: We'll return $2 million federal pandemic loan

The Detroit News

The Southfield firm led by high-profile Metro Detroit attorney Mike Morse will return a $2 million loan it gained through a federal program designed to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Tuesday.

 “With courts closed and our roads nearly empty, the future is uncertain. But what is certain is that we have had great success and we will continue long after this virus is gone," Morse said in a statement. "We can weather this storm, while many businesses cannot. That is a major factor in our decision in returning the money.”

Mike Morse

Morse's firm had turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, which makes forgivable loans of up to $10 million available to small businesses and nonprofits to help shore up payrolls during the pandemic.

An initial $349 billion in PPP funding was allocated within two weeks of the program's April 3 launch. An additional $310 billion became available April 27. Through Friday, more than 2.5 million loans totaling nearly $189 billion had been allocated from the latest funding tranche, SBA records show. In Michigan, about $5.8 billion in funding had been approved, according to the group.

Touted as a COVID-19 lifeline for businesses with fewer than 500 workers, the program has provided tens of millions of dollars in loans to firms with far larger payrolls than that, according to disclosures filed by publicly traded firms that received the aid, Bloomberg reported.

The Morse firm's representatives noted many small businesses could have their applications denied due to the lack of available funds.

“I could not sleep at night knowing that the money we were given, and not expected to pay back, would potentially close other small businesses," Morse said. "It came down to fairness for me. If you find yourself in the same situation, I’m asking you to do the same thing. Be a leader. God knows we need them right now.”

The Morse firm, which handles clients involved in car, truck and motorcycle accidents, has 150 legal professionals, according to its statement Tuesday. 

"With COVID-19 and Governor (Gretchen) Whitmer’s Stay-at-Home order, the amount of new cases the firm handles has been more than cut in half," the release read. "However, Morse has not laid off a single employee, a decision he made early on in the crisis."