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Public Companies Raked in $365 Million in Loans From Paycheck Protection Program

The taxpayer-backed relief program was intended to support small and independent businesses.

On Monday, Shake Shack made headlines when it announced that the company would return a $10 million loan it received from the Paycheck Protection Program. That announcement arrived after widespread outrage over how the program’s funds were allocated, with critics pointing to tens of millions of dollars that went to chains like Shake Shack while many small businesses received nothing. 

On Wednesday, a report from the Associated Press further revealed the extent of that imbalance, showing that nearly 100 publicly traded companies, “some with market values well over $100 million”, received $365 million in loans before the fund lapsed last week.

The SBA’s “small business” designation is typically applied only to companies with 500 or fewer employees, but a provision in the CARES Act allowed larger chains to apply for loans so long as they had fewer than 500 employees per location. 

In a White House briefing on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “The intent of this money was not for big public companies that had access to capital.” The same day, senators reached a deal on a new relief package that, if passed in the House, will inject another $300 billion into the depleted Paycheck Protection Program.

Mnuchin said the Treasury would be issuing new guidelines and restrictions regarding eligibility for PPP loans.