The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Monday that it has begun approving and distributing grants to the first wave of Restaurant Revitalization Fund applicants. The SBA will be awarding approximately $2 billion worth of grants to 16,000 restaurants, and operators will begin seeing the funds in their bank accounts as early as May 11.
“We know that this help is urgently needed by so many who have suffered disproportionately from this pandemic and have often been unable to access relief,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a statement. “Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on Main Streets across the nation. The SBA is here to help them build resilience to survive this pandemic as we get our economy back on track.”
Within the first two days that the grant application opened for restaurants, bars and select other foodservice businesses, 186,000 businesses from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. had already applied.
Last week, President Biden said, “that’s a staggering number” of restaurant applicants and estimated the current funding round of $28.6 billion will be able to help about 100,000 businesses. This number, the SBA noted, is not enough to meet demand.
“We need to demonstrate that demand, and we need to encourage everyone to apply and access this fund as much as possible and demonstrate what remaining need is out there,” Casillas Guzman told The New York Times.
More than half of the initial applications (97,600) came from women (46,400), veterans (4,200), socially or economically individuals (30,800), or some combination of all three (16,200). For the first 21 days of the program, the SBA will prioritize women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, with all other applicants being considered after this initial round.
Given Biden’s estimation of 100,000 grant recipients this time around and the fact that nearly that number alone came from the first priority group, it is possible that many (or most) of the initial recipients will be women, veterans and economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.
“Awarding grants within a week of restaurants and bars applying demonstrates the SBA's steadfast commitment to getting people the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said in a statement. “Restaurants and bars across the country are devastated after the last 16 months of this pandemic and, until this week, have been unable to access the meaningful relief needed to stay afloat.”
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