The big companies that got small business PPP loans

Photo credit: Golfible

Add a chain of country clubs, pharmaceutical companies, military contractors, a mobile home manufacturer and a coal company to the list of publicly traded corporations receiving emergency small business loans. That’s in addition to the national and international restaurant chains who’ve famously taken advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to SEC filings. 

Overall, the $325.3M (and counting) these companies received accounted for more than 9 percent of the program’s total $349B. The fund, administered by the Small Business Administration, was intended to cover payroll costs for companies with fewer than 500 employees. (Alternatively, companies could qualify if they recorded both a net income of $5M for the past two fiscal years and a net worth of $15M or less.) About 1.6 million businesses were approved, but the money, which was provided on a first-come-first serve basis, ran out in less than two weeks. 

Multiple banks like Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan are now accused of prioritizing the applications of well-heeled corporations over mom-and-pops, because the commissions on large loans are larger. 

While these entities secured small business loans, many also expanded their credit lines by tens of millions of dollars, sold off stock to raise funds and took other steps available only to to large corporations.

In addition, one was in the process of delisting itself from the stock exchange (often a first step toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Another faced a class action lawsuit alleging misrepresentations of revenue. And yet another found financially unstable by independent auditors just weeks before it was awarded a PPP loan.

The Associated Press on April 21 conducted a similar review of SEC filings.

Note: I reviewed documents filed April 10-17 with the SEC. If you want to keep track yourself, you can search recent filings here. Look for 8-K filings with 1.01 and 2.03 notices. (If there are other ways to track these companies, please let me know in the comments.) Employee totals are pulled from Bloomberg News, Owler and company websites. I’ll be adding info on companies with less than 500 employees shortly. 


Ruth’s Hospitality (5,704)

Fogo de Chao (unknown)

  • $20 million received
  • International restaurant chain
  • Brazillian steakhouse with 57 locations in four countries
  • As reported by Business Insider, who quoted the Wall Street Journal.
  • Who’s in Charge

J. Alexander’s Holdings, Inc. (4,200 employees)

Hallador Energy Company (915 employees)

Fiesta Restaurant Group (10,480 employees)

Potbelly Corp (6,000 employees)

Shake Shack (7,603 employees)

  • $10M (returned)
  • International restaurant chain
  • Burger chain with 189 locations across the U.S. and in 14 other countries. 
  • SEC Filing
  • Who’s in Charge

Zagg Inc. (628 employees)

  • $9.4M received
  • Tech hardware
  • Company manufactures cell phone accessories like protective cases, earbuds and keyboards internationally. Brands include Invisible Shield, Mophie, Gear4, Halo, Braven, iFrogz.
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: At the same time Zagg was applying for $9.4 million in small business loans, it was expanding its line of credit by $19.8 million to $144 million.

Broadwind Energy (521 employees)

Air T, Inc (850 employees)

New Age Beverages (889 employees)

  • $6.9 million received
  • Beverage distributor
  • Licenses and distributes well known brands like Nestea, Evian, Xing Tea, Bucha, Water Is Life, Volvic Water and ‘Nhanced. Headquartered in Denver, Colo. 
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

DMC Global Inc. (741 employees)

Legacy Housing Corp (800 employees)

  • $6.6M received
  • Mobile home manufacturer
  • A real estate company that manufactures, sells and finances mobile homes throughout the US.  
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight recently explored issues surrounding the mobile homes industry. 

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings (650 employees)

  • $6.6M received
  • Tourism
  • Lindblad and its subsidiary company Natural Habitat Adventures offers educationally oriented land and sea voyages, like polar bear tours and “African” safaris, according to recent filings.
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

Kura Sushi USA, Inc. (1,261 employees)

  • $6 million recieved
  • Restaurant, national chain
  • The largest revolving sushi chain in the U.S. operates 23 restaurants in California, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and Nevada. 
  • Headquarters: 
  • SEC filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: Kura’s Japan-based parent company operates more than 400 restaurants.

Drive Shack Inc. (551 employees)

US Auto Parts Network (834 employees)

Ultralife Corporation (573 employees)


WaVe Life Sciences, Ltd. (301 employees)

TSR Inc (389)

Continental Materials (460 employees)

  • $5.5M received
  • Construction materials
  • Company manufactures heating and cooling equipment for buildings as well as ready mix concrete and other building materials
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: The company is pulling itself off the Stock Exchange, often seen as a first step toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This follows an operating loss of $23 million last fiscal year.

SIFCO Industries (434 employees)

  • $5 million
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Makes parts for military, aerospace and energy sectors. 
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: Clients include Rolls Royce and United Technologies Corp., which recently merged with Raytheon. 

Digimarc Corp (170 employees)

  • $5M received
  • Tech hardware
  • Company sells watermarking tech for digital content like movies, photos and important documents like passports for customers worldwide.
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

Frequency Electronics (280 employees)

EnGlobal Corporation (251 employees)

Aquestive Therapeutics (232 employees)

  • $4.8M received
  • Biotech
  • Pharmaceutical company that focuses on central nervous system diseases.
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: Aquestive recently won FDA approval for a drug that could be the first oral therapy to manage seizure clusters, Libervant.

CPI Aerostructures (281 employees)

  • $4.8M received
  • Industrial Aerospace
  • Firm builds aircraft parts for U.S. Military and commercial clients. 
  • SEC Filings
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge
  • Of note: CPI is currently facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly overstating revenues to shareholders. 

Flotek Industries (273 employees)

Emmis Communications Corporation (350 employees)

  • $4.75M received
  • Media Company
  • Owns radio stations in LA, Chicago, New York; TV stations throughout the country; and magazines like “Texas Monthly” and “Country Sampler.”
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

Conformis, Inc (271 employees)

Natural Gas Services Group (270 employees)

Optinose Inc. (221 employees)

  • $4.4M received
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Produces products to treat allergies and ear, nose and throat issues. Products include Xhance (to treat nasal polyps) and Onzetra nasal powder.
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

Crawford United Corp (180 employees)

Vaso Corporation (294)

Biolase Inc (157 employees)

CRH Medical Corp (395 employees)

The Joint Corp (150 employees)

Smith Midland Corp (232 employees)

S&W Seed Corp (150 employees)

Enserveco Corp (186 employees)

  • $1.9M
  • Oil and Gas
  • Provides products and services supporting hydraulic fracturing and other extraction processes for the world’s leading producers like BP, Chesapeake, Hess and Antero. 
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge 
  • Of note: Before the loan was awarded, an independent auditor expressed doubt in March that Enservco would remain financially sound in the coming months. 

RiceBran Technologies (102 employees)

Educational Development Corporation (178 employees)

  • $1.45M 
  • Publishing
  • Publishes a line of educational children’s books produced in the UK and owns Kane Miller Book Publishers, offering a combined 2,000 board books, flash cards, art books, sticker books, etc. 
  • SEC Filing
  • Balance Sheet
  • Who’s in Charge

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (231 employees)

Workhorse Group (118 employees)


Coming soon

Before Jessica Fender co-founded Traveler Broads, she was an award-winning criminal justice and public affairs reporter, most recently for The Denver Post.