Image courtesy Ivy Mix (pictured), Advisory Board Member, Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Washington, DC – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced key details of its Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program to aid recovery in one of the hardest hit business sectors during the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restaurants are frequent clients of cabinet makers and millwork shops, so the funds could spell indirect benefits for woodworkers as well. “Business maintenance expenses including maintenance on walls, floors, deck surfaces, furniture, fixtures, and equipment…and construction of outdoor seating” are among eligible uses for funds.
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund was part of the $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package signed into law last month and the SBA is administering it. Restaurant groups welcomed the program. “Local restaurants and bars are being served very good news,” says Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
“With the launch of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, we’re prioritizing funding to the hardest-hit small businesses – irreplaceable gathering places in our neighborhoods and communities that need a lifeline now to get back on their feet,” says SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman. “We’re rolling out this program to make sure that these businesses can…get what they need in place to transition to today’s COVID-restricted marketplace.”
The program succeeds the expiring Paycheck Protection Program. Dining establishments including restaurants and bars are eligible.
A notable market segment is craft beer breweries, which often operate dining and drinking establishments, and consume many wood-based products including seating and tables, barrels, tap handles, wood signage, and skids.
“Small and independent craft breweries are vibrant community gathering places that can be found in nearly every congressional district in the U.S. and contribute to manufacturing, hospitality, retail, tourism, and agricultural industries,” says Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “We are pleased to work with the SBA to…assist the breweries hit hardest by COVID-19.”
The SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period to address technical issues ahead of the public launch. Restaurant participants in the pilot will be randomly selected from existing Paycheck Protection Program borrowers in priority groups, though they will not receive funds until the application portal formally opens on a date still to be determined.
For the first 21 days, the SBA says it will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
Ron Busby, Sr., president and CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., says the SBA will bring needed resources to often under-served businesses “to aid in stabilization, recovery and ultimately, strengthen our economy.”
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