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Sweetgreen returns $10 million stimulus loan

Salad chain Sweetgreen announced on Wednesday that it will return the $10 million stimulus loan it received. 

"At the end of last week, we were approved for a $10M loan through the program. That same day, we learned that the money had run out and so many small businesses and friends in the industry who needed it most did not receive any funds," co-founders Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru wrote in a Medium post. "Knowing that, we quickly made the decision to return the loan."

The company said it had planned to use the loan to support employees — maintaining payroll and hiring back those who had been furloughed.

Sweetgreen's decision comes just days after burger chain Shake Shack announced that it too will be returning $10 million it received. "We're fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not. Until every restaurant that needs it has had the same opportunity to receive assistance, we're returning ours," the company said in a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic has threatened businesses across the country and the government's Paycheck Protection Program offers low-interest loans to them. Business that maintain much of their staffing levels will have the loans forgiven.   

The program allows large chains to apply for every store they operate, as long as each location has fewer than 500 employees and is a separate legal business entity.

However, the initial round of funding ran out quickly, and many small business owners were left frustrated that they didn't receive loans, while large chains received up to $10 million. 

A second round of funding is expected. Roughly $60 billion of the new funds will be specifically targeted to financial institutions serving rural, unbanked and minority-owned businesses.

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